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NOV 8 1906 



. I . . ■ r) 




• I, Oppidans Road, 

Primrose Hill, London. 
May 19M, 1884. 

My dear Seeley, 

When I asked you to let me connect this booklet 
with your name, you replied at once : " You surely cannot 
doubt for a moment that I shall think your dedication a 
great honour." No words could be kinder; few, if any, 
could make .me prouder. Only, would they were better 
deservfed ! 

I have always thought, and shall always think, your friend- 
ship, enjoyed ever since I a Freshman looked up with 
reverence to you a * Senior Soph',- as one of the chief plea- 
. sures and distinctions and blessings of my life. 

And so it is with no ordinary satisfaction that I avail 

^nyself of your permission to inscribe this volume to you. . 


Believe me^ my dear Seeley, 
To be always 

Very sincerely yours, 

John W. Hales. 

To J. R. Seeley, Esq., LL.D., 

Regius Professor of Modem History in the 
' University of Cambridge, 


I AM so often asked by pupils and friends, and also, by 
strangers, where copies of my paper on King Lear (see 
below, page 242) and of certain other Shakespearean papers 
of mine are to be found, that it has seemed advisable to 
make a small collection of such things and issue them in a 
separate volume. 

The austerest .and grimmest critic will not feel more 
keenly than their author that they might be, and indeed 
ought to be, much worthier of reproduction. For many 
years now, Shakespeare's Works have been one of my 
special studies; and I have been hoping for some con- 
venient season when I could try to put into some complete 
shape the results, such as they are,- of those studies. Buf 
the convenient season has not yet, and perhaps may never, 
come. So it seems best to do what one may at once instead 
of waiting for more leisure — ^waiting, like Horace's rustic, 
for the tide of other engagements and occupations to cease 


" At ille 
Labitur et labetur.'* 

Certainly, no one could be more conscious of the great- 
ness of the subject, however slight and fragmentary the 
articles here gathered together. I will venture to quote to 



this effect from myself a paragraph Which I was particularly 
pleased to see that that excellent scholar and most kindly 
and courteous, gentleman Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, had, with- 
out knowing who wrote it, adopted as the motto of his 
valuable Memoranda on the Tragedy of Hamlet : " The fact 
is the subject is simply inexhaustible. The study of Shake- 
speare is as the study of Nature herself whose favourite son 
he was. And the best of Shakespeare students, if we ask 
him, as Charmian asked the Soothsayer, * Is't you, sir, that 
know things ? ' will reply, the more humbly and sincerely 
the better he is, 

* In Nature's infinite book of secrecy 
A little I can read.' 

• *A little I can read' — that is all the truly competent 
scholar will dare to say." 

To certain friends who have kindlily assisted me in cor- 
recting " proofs," and to various editors and others for the 
courteous way in which they received my mention of the 
proposal here executed, I tender my heartiest thanks. 


I. From Stratford-on-Avon to London. (From the Corn- 
hill Magazine) I 

II. Round about Stratford in 1605. (From Fraser^s 

Magazine) ........ 25 

III. Chaucer and Shakespeare. (From the Quarterly 

Reinew) 56 

IV. Shakespeare's Greek Names, (From the Comhill 

Magazine) 105 

— V. YizzMit^s Shakespeare's Library, {FroraXYiG Athenaum) 120 

— VI, Mr. and Mrs. Cowden Clarke's Shakespeare Key, 

(From the Athenceum) 129 

— VII. 'Dr.'Elzxi^s Essays on Shakespeare, {From ihQ Academy) 134 
VIII. Some Conditions of the Elizabethan Drama. (From 

the Saturday Review) 145 

— IX. Mr. Halliwoll-Phillipps' Papers referring to Shake- 

speare, (From the Athenceum) , . . .152 
-r— X. Mrs. Fumess' Concordance to Shakespeare^ s Poems, 

(From the Academy and the Athenceum) . .165 
XI. Dr. Schmidt's Shakespeare- Leocicon, (From the 

Academy and the Athenceum) , . . • 174 
-^ XII. Shakespeare Scenes and Characters, (From the 

Academy) 185 

* XIII. Bell's, and Singer's Editions di Shakespeare^ s Dramatic 
Works ; and Mr. Watkiss Lloyd's Critical Essays 
on Shakespeare, (From the Academy) . . .189 
XIV. Shakespeare and Satire. (From the Antiquary) , 198 
XV. Milton's familiarity with Shakespeare's Plays. (From 

the Athenceum) - . . 201 

■— XVI. King Richard the Second, (From the Academy) . 205 
XVII. Wily Beguiled and The Merchant of Venice, (From 

the Athenceum) 209 




XVIII. A certain Edition of The Merchant of Venice, (From 

the Athenceum) 215 

XIX. ** With good capon lined." (From the Antiquary) . 219 

XX. ** Caesar doth bear me hard." (From the Academy) . 224 
XXI. Mr. Fumess* New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare : 

Hamlet, (From the Athenaum and the Academy) 2,2.% 

— XXII. Hamlet's Age. (From the Academy) . . . 237 
**An aery of children, little eyases.*' (From the 

Athenceum) 237 

"That cry out on top of question." (From the 

Athenaum) . . . • 239 

** Assume a virtue, if you have it not." (From the 

Academy) . '. . '. . . , . 240 

"• XXIII. King Lear, (From the Fortnightly Remew) . . 242 
XXIV. Cordell Anslye. (From the Athenaum) , . .271 
^— XXV. The Porter in Macbeth. (From the New Shak- 

spere Society's Transactions) .... 273 

•* XXVI. Macbeth a good Churchman. (From the Academy) . 291 
XXVII. "The Coal of Fire upon the Ice." (From the 

Academy) 292 

XXVIII. "The Washing of Ten Tides." {From the Academy) 294 



(From the Comhill Magazine^ Jan., 1877.) 

SEEING our dearth of information about Shakespeare is 
so great, nothing that may be of the slightest value 
ought to be neglected ; and so it may be worth while to con- 
sider what scenes and sights may have been familiar to him 
in his joumeyings to and fro from Stratford to London. 
The transit can be accomplished now in four or five hours ; 
but it was no such light matter in the Elizabethan age. 
The distance is some 100 miles (by Oxford 94), and probably 
under ordinary circumstances would occupy four or five days 
to traverse, though no doubt, under pressure, a less time 
might suffice. These periods would certainly form notable 
epochs in the poet's life. What a change from **the smoke 
and uproar and riches of Rome " I No doubt he would 
seldom travel alone. Perils from robbers were too common 
and too serious to encourage that practice. But yet he 
would often be lonely enough ; and many a thought after- 
wards embodied in immortal shape must have occurred to 
him during these long hours. It would make a fine picture 
— the author of HamleL his "season" over, amidst the 


woody solitudes of the Chilterns, or slowly wending his way 
through some lowland marsh. We may be sure he was not 
idle at these times. The rough rude simple life he saw 
around him would not be unsuggestive. There is a tradition, 
as we shall see, that he " studied " his Dogberry in some 
village he passed through. His tablets must often have 
been called into requisition. And when the days were fair, 
and all the landscape wore the beauty of the sunshine, many 
a " session of sweet silent thought " must have been holden. 
We cannot doubt that in those long quiet journeys his spirit 
found for itself nurture and strength. The true poet is like 
that "bright flower, whose home is everywhere." Often 
travel-tired, he would find rest for himself in contemplating 
the face of nature and the humours of men. Indeed, with 
all their discomforts and annoyances, these may have been 
precious times for him; and he may have arrived at his 
destination a wiser, if a weary, man. 

There are two or three sonnets in which he speaks of 
journeys, possibly of these journeys. The following may 
have been written at Stratford, at the close of one of them : — 

" Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed, 
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired ; 
But then begins a journey in my head, 
To work my mind when body's work's expired ; 
For then my thoughts (from far where I abide) 
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee, 
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide, 
Looking on darkness which the blind do see ; 
Save that my soul's imaginary sight 
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view. 
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night, 
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new. 
So thus by day my limbs, by night my mind, 
For thee and for myself no quiet find. " 

In others we see him in the midst of a journey, weighed 


down with that strange sorrow whose history seems likely to 
remain inscrutable : — 

** How heavy do I journey on the way, 

When what I seek — my weary travel's end — 

Doth teach that ease and that repose to say, 

* Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend I ' 

The beast that bears me, tired with my woe. 

Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me. 

As if by some instinct the wretch did know 

His rider loved not speed, being made from thee. 

The bloody spur cannot provoke him on 

That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide. 

Which heavily he answers with a groan 

More sharp to me than spurring to his side ; 

For that same groan doth put this in my mind. 
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind." 

There are others in which he speaks of absences from his 
friend. Of course Shakespeare made other journeys, besides 
between Stratford and London ; occasionally he " strolled " 
with his company ; but in any case these sonnets may be of 
assistance in picturing him to us as he passed along the 
roads that we propose to specify. We can see that it was 
not without knowledge he made Autolycus sing : — 

** A merry heart goes all the day ; 
Your sad tires in a mile-a." 


We need scarcely remind our readers that facilities of 
locomotion in the Elizabethan age were scanty enough. 
They are probably well aware how scanty such facilities 
were a century later, and even a century later still. It was 
much worse in the Elizabethan age. Public coaches did not 
begin to run, or to stick fast, till nearly half a century after 


Shakespeare's time. The art of road-making was not yet 
known ; Metcalfe and Telford, and their worthy biographer 
Mr. Smiles, belonged to a far distant posterity. What they 
were pleased to call roads then were mere deeply-rutted 
tracks, almost or altogether impassable in bad weather; 
wide-spreading sloughs with no Mr. Hope at the further edge 
to lend the splashed and mired traveller a hand. The 
country was still generally unenclosed ; and all that could 
be done when the ruts became too deep for endurance was 
to essay a fresh track by the side of the old one. Some 
statutes indeed had been passed in the reign of Henry the 
Eighth, designed to improve certain thoroughfares of noto- 
rious badness, and an Act of a more general application had 
been passed in the reign of Queen Mary; but little or nothing 
had come of them. The description given in the preamble 
of the statute of 1555 remained still true : " Highways are 
now both very noisome and tedious to travel in, and dangerous 
to all passengers and carriages." We have not yet learnt to 
control our rivers, and it is still possible sometimes to see 
wide lakes extending over the land : but this was a common 
Elizabethan spectacle. Often then, and many a time after^ 
locomotion was completely intercepted by floods. Not so 
very seldom might it be said that the " contagious fogs " 


Falling in the land, 
Have every pelting river made so proud 
That they have overborne their continents : 
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain, 
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green com 
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard ; 
The fold stands empty in the drowned field. 
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock ; 
The nine men's morris is filled up with mud, 
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green 
For lack of tread are undistinguishable." 


At such times one's journey could only be pursued by the 
help of skilful guides, and even so at some risk. To take a 
late illustration, Thoresby, who died in 17 15, tells us in his 
diary how the rains had " raised the washes upon the road 
near Ware to that height that passengers from London that 
were upon that road swam, and a poor higgler was drowned, 
which prevented me travelling for many hours ; yet towards 
evening we adventured with some country people who con- 
ducted us over the meadows, whereby we missed the deepest 
of the wash at Cheshunt, though we rode to the saddle-skirts 
for a considerable way, but got safe to Walthara Cross, 
where we lodged.'* ^ 

Such being the roads — so " founderous," as someone calls 
them — ^what would the vehicles be ? 

Carriers' carts * of a sort did struggle along ; but for the 
most part movement was accomplished on foot or on horse- 
back, and conveyance of goods by pack-horses. Horse- 
litters were occasionally used. Coaches are said to have 
been introduced by Boomen, Queen Elizabeth's own coach- 
man ; but they were little better, as Mr. Smiles remarks, than 
carts without springs, the body resting solid upon the axles. 
And those who used them paid a bitter penalty for the 
luxury.' At one of the first audiences which the Queen 

* See Smiles' Lives of the Engineers: Metcalfe and Telford, p. 19, 
ed. 1874. 

^ F)mes Morison speaks (temp. James I.) of "carriers who have long 
covered wagons, in which they carry passengers from place to place ; 
but this kind of journeying," he adds, ** is so tedious, by reason they 
must take wagon very early and come very late to their inns, that none 
but women and people of inferior condition travel in this sort." 

' See a picture of this invention in Mr. Roberts's Social History of 
the Southern Counties, Perhaps those who have known what it is to be 
hauled in a bathing-machine across a fine shingly beach can best appre- 
ciate the delights of such a means of locomotion. 


gave to the French Ambassador, in 1568, she feelingly 
described to him " the aching pains she was suffering in con- 
sequence of having been knocked about in a coach which had 
been driven a little too fast, only a few days before." About 
a century later, the public vehicles were popularly known 
as " hell-carts," and no doubt well deserved the name. One 
grave objection to wheels was, it seems, that they broke up 
the roads ! " King James," says Mr. Roberts, " proclaimed 
that carts and wagons with four wheels, canying excessive 
burthens, so galled the highways and the very foundations 
of bridges, that the king denounced them to the judges as 
common nuisances, against the weal public, and the use of 
them an offence. By this proclamation of James I., in the 
year 1622, no carrier was to travel with a four-wheeled 
wagon, but only with a cart having two wheels, and only to 
carry 20 cwt. Anyone transgressing this was to be punished." 
At Weymouth, in 1635, "the authorities passed a bye-law, 
that no brewers were to bind the wheels of their carts with 
iron, as it wore away the pitching of the streets. Precisely 
similar was the complaint against hackney-coaches, 1638— 
viz. 'that they broke up the streets. ... It having been 
thought proper to ordain in the year 1662, that the wheels 
of each cart or wagon should be four inches in the tyre, 
this was found to be impracticable, for in some parts the 
ruts could not receive such wheels, nor could the carriages 
pass. A proclamation stayed the prosecution of offenders 
till the further order of Parliament." In the Elizabethan age 
the fact was that the roads could not bear the coaches, and 
the coaches could not bear the roads ; so there was but little 
traffic in that way, that fearful institution the stage-coach 
being a later birth of time. 

On foot then, or on horseback, Shakespeare would perform 
his journeys. That he would ride when he could afford it 


is the more probable from the fact we gather from certain 
sonnets that he was lame, for we see no reason to take the 
words in any non-natural or heterobiographical sense. There 
is ground for believing that this defect was of no very serious 
nature ; it has been compared with that of Scott, and that of 
Byron ; but it would probably make him prefer riding to 
walking. And we might just ask in passing whether pedes- 
trianizing is not a quite modern English taste ? A German, 
who made a walking tour in this country not a hundred 
years ago, found such a method of progress not at all prac- 
tised, and indeed one which exposed him to much suspicion 
and discomfort. He unbosomed his wonder that it should 
be so to a coach-fellow-traveller, for he did sometimes 
indulge himself in a lift. ** On my asking him why English- 
men, who were so remarkable for acting up to their own 
notions and ideas, did not, now and then, merely to see life 
in every point of view, travel on foot ; * Oh ! ' said he, * we 
are too rich, too lazy, and too proud. ' " But, if a quite 
modem taste, it was, no doubt, an old necessity for many a 
traveller. See Walton's account of Hooker's walking from 
Oxford to Exeter. 

Horses could be hired at 1 2d, the first day, and 2>d, a day 
after till re-delivery. " Mr. John Garland, merchant, mayor 
of Lyme in 1569, rode to London on town business. His 
whole charge for himself and horse in London was 3/. 5 j. ; 
the hire of the horse was 5X." Also, it was possible to post, 
at least in some parts. It was so in Norfolk as early as 1568, 
as we learn from Blomefield apud Roberts. The charge was 
^d, a mile for the horse, and 6^. for the guide " to go and 
carry back the horse ; and the said horses were not to carry 
any cloak-bag of above ten pounds' weight." A common 
arrangement for those who did not keep a horse of their own 
was to buy one at the beginning of a journey and sell it at 


the end. So late as 1753 a Dr. Skene, of Aberdeen, travelled 
from London to Edinburgh in this way. He bought a mare 
for eight guineas in London, rode her nineteen days, and 
sold her in Edinburgh for what he had given for her. 

We have an incidental picture of the travelling equestrian 
of the seventeenth century, in a book quoted by Mr. Smiles, 
called The Grand Concern of England explained in several 
Proposals to Parliament^ published in 1673, denouncing 
stage-coaches and caravans. The writer, said to be one 
John Gressot, of the Charterhouse, insists that stage-coaches 
were ruinous to trade, " for that most gentlemen, before they 
travelled in coaches, used to ride with swords, belts, pistols, 
holsters, portmanteaus, and hat-cases [a heavy cargo this ! ], 
which in these coaches they have little or no occasion for j 
for, when they rode on horseback, they rode in one suit and 
carried another to wear when they came to their journey's 
end, or lay by the way ; but in coaches a silk suit and an 
Indian gown, with a sash, silk stockings, and beaver hats, 
men ride in and carry no other with them, because they 
escape the wet and dirt, which on horseback they cannot 
avoid \ whereas in two or three journeys on horseback their 
clothes and hats were wont to be spoiled ; which done, they 
were forced to have new very often, and that increased the 
consumption of the manufactures and the employment of the 
manufacturer, which travelling in coaches doth in no way 

Certainly it was not all plain sailing for the equestrian. It 
was often as much as he could do, nay more, to get along. 
Here is a fourteenth century instance : Archbishop Islip, 
riding from Oxford Palace to Mayfield, Sussex, in 1362, fell 
from his horse in a wet and miry lane between Sevenpaks 
and Tunbridge, so that he was wet through all over. In that 
pitiable state he rode on without any change of clothes, and 


was seized with paralysis. Think of his poor Grace, the 
Primate of All England, utterly dank and bemudded ! And 
things were scarcely a whit better three centuries after. 
" Eight hundred horse were taken prisoners in the civil wars 
in Lincolnshire while sticking in the mire." 

Add to all the perils from ruts and sloughs and floods 
those from highwaymen. The waters were only sometimes 
out; the robbers always were, professionals or amateurs. 
The woods that then abounded afforded these gentlemen an 
excellent cover, which they turned to good account. So 
early as 1 285 some attempt was made to circumscribe this 
accommodation. It was enacted, says Mr. Smiles, " that all 
bushes and trees along the roads leading from one market to 
another should be cut down for two hundred feet on either 
side, to prevent robbers lurking therein." On the Bucking- 
hamshire proverb, " Here if you beat a bush it's odds you'ld 
start a thief," Fuller, in his Worthies^ observes, " No doubt 
there was just occasion for this proverb at the original 
thereof, which then contained satirical truth, proportioned 
to the place before it was reformed ; whereof thus our great 
antiquary : * It was altogether unpassable in times past by 
reason of trees, until that Leofstane, Abbot of St. Alban's, 
did cut them down, because they yielded a place of refuge 
for thieves.' But this proverb is now antiquated as to the 
truth thereof, Buckinghamshire affording as many maiden 
assizes as any locality of equal populousness. Yea, hear 
how she pleadeth for herself that such highwaymen were 
never her natives, but fled thither for their shelter out of 
neighbouring counties." We may quite admit the truth of 
Fuller's latter remark, without believing that highway robbery 
was at all rare in the county of which he speaks. Certainly 
in the olden times the Chiltern Hills were notorious for the 
bandits that haunted them. "We passed through many 


woods," writes Brunetto Latini, Dante's tutor, of his journey 
from London to Oxford, "considered here as dangerous 
places, as they are infested with robbers, which indeed is 
the case with most of the roads in England. This is a 
circumstance connived at by the neighbouring barons on 
consideration of sharing in their booty and of these robbers 
serving as their protectors on all occasions, personally and 
with the whole strength of their band. However, as our 
company was numerous, we had less fear." It was to esta- 
blish order, or do what he could in that line in this thieves' 
lair, that the Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds was origi- 
nally appointed. But in all parts of the country a meeting 
with those who 

** With a base and boisterous sword enforced 
A thievish living on the common road " 

was a very common travelling experience. And so it was 
common to go armed; as appears from the extract given 
above, from The Grand Concern ^ &c., and could be shown 
still more fully, if our space permitted, from Harrison's 
Description of England, See the New Shakspere Society's 
edition, edited by Mr. Furnivall, Part I., p. 283. 


Having said just as much on the ways and means of Eliza- 
bethan travelling as may help us to form a picture of our 
poet en route, let us now name specially the roads which he 
in all probability followed in passing between his home at 
Stratford and " his place of business " in London. 

There are two main routes between Stratford and London : 
one by Oxford and High Wycombe, the other by Banbury 
and Aylesbury. And there are traditions which indicate 


that Shakespeare used them both. At least that he used the 
former one may be regarded as fairly certain. For the latter 
one it is to be said that certainly at a later time it became 
the recognized route from London, and that one tradition 
seems to connect him with it. 

There would seem good reason for believing that in the 
Elizabethan age, and later still, that the common route was 
by Oxford. Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, to whose researches we 
all owe so much, prints in his Life of Shakespeare the follow- 
ing account of some Stratford people who went to London 
on the business of the Corporation in 1592. 

Charges laid out when we went to Court : 

Paid for our horsemeat the first night at Oxford . 

And for our own charges the same night . 

The second night at Islip for our supper 

And for our horsemeat the same night at Islip . 

The third day for our bait and our horses at Hook 

Norton . . 

And for walking our horses at Tetsworth and elsewhere 
Sum for this journey . . . xlr. \d. 

We are told by Anthony Wood that Shakespeare in his 
journeys between AVarwickshire and London frequented 
" the house of John Davenant, a sufficient vintner." It was, 
and is, a tavern known as the " Crown," in the Corn Market, 
not far from Carfax Church. And so Aubrey : " Mr. William 
Shakespeare was wont to go into Warwickshire once a year, 
and did commonly in this journey lie at this [Davenant's] 
house in Oxon, where he was exceedingly respected." And 
so Oldys, on the authority of Pope, who quoted Betterton : 
" If tradition may be trusted, Shakespeare often baited at the 
Crown Inn, a tavern in Oxford, in his journey to and from 
London." Davenant, the poet, son of the publican, is said 
to have been Shakespeare's godson, and to have boasted, or 
at least suggested, that he stood in a yet closer relation to him. 

• • 





• • 


• • • • « 


• • 






The tradition that connects Shakespeare with the other 
route mentioned, or rather with a variety of it, is given only 
by Aubrey : — 

" The humour of the constable in Midsummer JVighfs 
Dream [he means Much Ado about Nothing] he happened 
to take at Grendon, in Bucks, which is the road from 
London to Stratford; and there was living that constable 
about 1642, when I first came to Oxon. I think it was 
Midsummer night that he happened to lie there. Mr. Jos. 
Howe is of that parish, and knew him. Ben Jonson and he 
did gather humours of men daily wherever they came. . . . 
He was wont to go to his native country once a year." 

The Variorum version gives Crendon (see iii. 213, ed. 
1 8 13), and there is a place called Long Crendon in Bucks, 
not far from Thame ; but we follow the reading of Mr. 
Halliwell-Phillipps as more probably sound. ^ Grendon, or 
to give it its full style, Grendon Underwood, lies just to the 
north of the road — the old Akeman Street — from Aylesbury 
to Bicester, about six miles from the latter town ; and so 
travelling by the Banbury and Aylesbury route, mentioned 
above, Shakspeare might easily make the worthy constable's 
acquaintance. At a later time the coaches, it would seem, 
did not go by Bicester, but by Buckingham, as may be 
learned from Owen's Britannia Depicta^ or Ogiiby Improved, 
1749. No doubt the equestrian traveller would perpetually 
vary his route, for the sake of companionship, or some 
special flood or other danger, or for mere variety's sake. 

That Shakespeare then did not always go vid Oxford is 

^ That Grendon is right is proved — if any proving is wanted — by the 
fact, known from other sources, that Mr. Jos. Howe was of Grendon, 
not Crendon. He was born at Grendon Underwood, Bucks, March 
29, 16 1 2, and died August 28, 1701, setat. ninety. See Bishop Pear* 
son's Vind, Ignat,; Yi^dsn^^s Robert of Gloucester y ed. 18 10. 


probable enough, and has a tradition in its favour; but we 
seem justified in believing that vid Oxford was certainly his 
ordinary route ; and so to it we will now give attention. 


For the sake of convenience, we will divide the journey 
into four stages, two between Stratford and Oxford, two 
between Oxford and London. 

(i) From Stratford to Chipping Norton^ 20 miles. A most 
pleasant expedition, now-a-days, over a finely undulating 
country, up the valley of the Stour, by the side, for some 
miles at least, of noble parks, which in Shakespeare's time, 
perhaps, were not enclosed. Probably no English county 
surpasses Warwickshire in quiet loveliness. Nature does 
not reveal herself there in her more terrible forms, but in a 
sweet, tranquil beauty, balm-like to the spirit, and deliciously 
restful. Scott calls " Caledonia stem and wild " — Caledonia, 
with its brown heaths and shaggy woods, with its mountains 
and floods — "meet nurse of the poetic child." But the 
greatest of all poetic children was nursed amid far other 
scenes — not amidst excitement and grandeur, but amidst 
calm and peace. The Avon, no doubt, could and did 
rise at times, and sweep the labours of men and oxen 
before its swollen current ; but for the most part it flowed 
on, not chafing and mutinying against its restraints, but 
content and gentle ; and Gray, with his fine tact, touches 
the right chord when he speaks of "lucid Avon" stray- 
ing. It was amidst sweet silences, which Avon's murmur 
and Arden's whisperings scarcely broke, that Shakespeare 
was cradled and nurtured, — that the mighty mother did 
unveil her awful face to her " darling." So too it was with 


the Jewish prophet. "A great and strong wind rent the 
mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord ; 
but the Lord was not in the wind ; and after the wind an 
earthquake ; but the Lord was not in the earthquake ; and 
after the earthquake a fire ; but the Lord was not in the 
fire. And after the fire " — after all those tumults and terrors 
— " a still small voice." 

" One said no less truly than merrily," writes Fuller of 
Warwickshire : " * It is the heart, but not the core of Eng- 
land,' having nothing coarse or choaky therein. The 
wooded part thereof may want what the fieldon affords ; so 
that Warwickshire is defective in neither. As for the plea- 
sure thereof, an author [Speed] is bold to say, that from 
Edgehill one may behold it anpther Eden, as Lot did the 
Plain of Jordan ; but he might have put in : * It is not 
altogether so well watered.' " 

Shakespeare would leave Stratford by the Clopton Bridge, 
and then presently turn his face due southward. Soon the road 
rises. When it falls slightly again, amidst noble trees, he 
would lose sight of Trinity spire, and feel that his native 
town was really left behind. At Alderminster, if the day 
was bright, he might linger a few minutes by the church, so 
picturesque and picturesquely situated. And then on, be- 
neath trees that, some of them at least, still lend a grateful 
shadow, by Newbold to Tredington, little dreaming as he 
passed by the point where a road strikes off to Lower Eat- 
ington, that there some day on a cross would be inscribed 
doggrel mentioning him : — 

** 6 miles to Shakspere's Town whose name 

Is known throughout the earth 
To Shipton 4, whose lesser fame 

Boasts no such poet's birth." 

What comfort even this feeble quatrain might have minis- 


tered to him, could he have seen it that first journey, when 
he was setting forth to try his fortune in strange fields; 
when, whatever the confidence with which his genius in- 
spired him, his course was yet dim and uncertain ; and who 
knew whether "when the surly sullen bell," which gave 
warning to the world that he was fled from it, had ceased 
tolling, any one would care his "poor name" to rehearse? 
Just where that cross now stands, he may one day have 
stood, faint and weary, hesitating, despondent. It is, how- 
ever, quite as probable that when he reached the bifurca- 
tion he was in the highest possible spirits, and punned 
viUanously on the name of the neighbouring hamlets. 

He might turn a quarter of a mile or so from the high 
road to look at the fine church at Tredington, with its Nor- 
man doorway and its monuments; and, perhaps, gossiping with 
some native — "he was a handsome, well-shaped man," 
quoth Aubrey, " very good company, and of a very ready 
and pleasant smooth wit" — would hear, and would him- 
self crack some joke about the ever hard-up rector. " I 
have heard Mr. Trap say," so writes the Rev. John Ward, 
sometime (1662-1679) vicar of Stratford, "that the parsons 
of Tredington were always needy. One Dr. Brett, who was 
parson before Dr. Smith, was to marry one Mr. Hicks ; and 
Mr. Hicks, in a vapour, laid a handful of gold and silver 
upon the book ; and he took it all. [Why should not he ? 
What was it put on the book for ?] Whereupon Mr. Hicks 
went to him, and told him of it that he did not intend to 
have given him all : it was about ten pound. Says he, * I 
want, and I will pay thee again ; ' but never did." 

The first place worthy of the name of town he would 
arrive at would be Shipston-on-Stour, situated on a some- 
what bleak upland. A quiet place in these days, but once, 
as is shown by the inns which still abound, lively enough 


with coaches and traffic. They gape in vain now, the yard 
gates, except haply on market-days and at the mop-fair ; and 
the horns that once made the old streets ring are blown, if 
blown at all, on the banks of the Styx, no longer of the 
Stour. " In this bleak ill-cultivated track," ^ writes one who 
traversed it not quite a century since, " the lower class of 
labouring poor, who have very little other employment in 
winter than thrashing out corn, are much distressed for the 
want of fuel, and think it economy to lie much in bed, to 
save both firing and provisions." 

Now on to Long Compton. "The intervening country 
is open, exposed, and not very rich," says the writer just 
quoted, and his description may serve for the earlier time. 
" It is deficient in planting, which in course of time would 
generate warmth to the atmosphere, and convert the various 
influences of the heavens into a nutritive vegetable mould 
that would eventually enrich it." The water-shed of the 
Stour is now reached. Long Compton * lies straggling in a 
way that justifies its adjective across a valley, from either 
edge of which are obtainable fine views, those to the north 
from above Weston House especially so. Crossing the 
Combe, which gives the village its name, even the most un- 
interested and uninteresting tourist would, we should suppose, 
turn a few steps aside to see the antiquarian glory of Oxford- 
shire, for we are now in Oxfordshire — the RoUrich-stones.' 
They probably show less well now than in Shakespeare's day, 
for Time and the farmers have been busy. We may certainly 

^ See Tour in England atid Scotland in 1785. By Thomas Newton, 

^ At Barton-on-the -Heath, some two miles from Long Compton, 
lived Robert Dover, of Cotswold games celebrity. {Merry Wives, I. 
i. 92.) See Britton's Beauties of England and Wales: Warwickshire, 

® See Drayton's Polyolbion, the 13th Song, and Selden's note. 


imagine him lingering in that mysterious circle, wondering 
what faith or what sorrow or what triumph it was that had 
once arranged it, hearing perchance from some old shep- 
herd the stories of the Whispering Knights and of the dis- 
appointed King. Here indeed were " sermons in stones." 
The original language was dark and hidden; yet, for all 
that, they were rich in significance, in suggestion, in pathos. 
An old MS., quoted by Hearne in his edition of Robert of 
Gloucester's Chronicle, describing the Mirabilm BriiannuBy 
ends thus : " Sunt magni lapides in Oxenfordensi pago, 
manu hominum quasi sub quadam connexione dispositi, set 
a quo tempore vel a qua gente vel ad quid memorandum vel 
signandum factum fuerit, ignoratur. Ab incolis autem voca 
tur locus ille Rolendrych." 

Dropping across another valley, we presently reach 
Chipping Norton, for no longer can one put up at Chapel 
House at Cold Norton, a well-known hostelry once — "a 
most excellent inn, and fitted up in the first style of accommo- 
dation," says a last century traveller. " The Chapel " origi- 
nally belonged, as we learn from Murray, to an Augustinian 
priory, founded temp, Henry II. When Shakespeare passed 
by, this priory had been suppressed only some fifty years; 
and, probably enough, ruins were yet standing, and the 
Chapel looked not altogether unlike itself At Chipping 
Norton he would find accommodation in abundance ; for it 
must have been then, as it had been long before (so its 
name shows) an important market town, and as it was long 
afterwards, an important station for travellers. When, in 
1749, a coach was started to run from Birmingham to Lon- 
don, vid Oxford, " It breakfasts," writes Lady Luxborough 
to Shenstone, whom she wishes to avail himself of it, " at 
Henley [in Arden], and lies at Chipping Norton." The 
town consists mainly of one long street, which it would seem 



consisted mainly of inns. The church, not much changed 
probably since the sixteenth century, with its picturesque 
site, its double north aisle, its hexagonal south porch, and 
its old monuments, is well worth a visit. 

(ii) From Chipping Norton to Oxford, 20 miles. — Regain- 
ing the high road, Shakespeare would, as far as Woodstock, 
follow the course of the Glyme, which flows into the Even- 
lode, which flows into the Isis. The first village encoun- 
tered is Neat Enstone, half a mile south of Enstone. He 
might turn aside to see Enstone church, and smile over 
the legend of the murdered Kenelm, son of Kenulphus, to 
whom it is dedicated, having, perhaps, Latin enough to 
interpret the old leonines — always provided he came across 

them : — 

" In Clene sub spina jacet in convalle bovina 
Vertice privatus, Kenelmus fraude necatus." 

At least let us think of him visiting the Hoarstone, as it is 
called, the Giant's (A.S. Ent=2i giant) stone, that is said to 
give the village its name, for it would lie but a few yards out 
of his way. We say " it," but in fact there are four other 
stones, the Hoarstone alone surviving upright They formed 
once, it may be believed, a rude tomb with four cumbrous 
sides and a cumbrous roof, with earth heaped all round 
them or over them. How long might a giant lie i' the earth ere 
he rot ? He must, surely, have an extra allowance of years. 
Passing now on through the hamlet of Over Kiddington, 
with its ruined cross — at Nether Kiddington, a mile on the 
left, is a church said to be worth seeing, but we cannot see 
everything — by Ditchley Park,^ home of the Lees, who were 

^ * * Hence [from Corabury] we went to see the famous wells, natural 
and artificial grotts and fountains, called BusheU's Wells, at Enstone. 
This Bushell had been secretary to my Lord Verulam. It is an extra- 
ordinary solitude. There he had two mummies ; a grott where he lay 


destined to be celebrated hereafter by a brother-genius ; then, 
after perhaps a slight detour, to Glympton, and passing on 
the right the road to Combury Hall (only five miles off), 
where Leicester, Elizabeth's Leicester, perished by the poison 
prepared, it is said, for his wife ; keeping by the old wall of 
Woodstock Park — it is said to have been the first park en- 
closed with a wall — our poet would arrive at Woodstock 
town. For him, obvious associations here would be the 
Fair Rosamond and the poet Chaucer. The story of the 
former has been shown to be much mixed with fable; 
the connection of the latter with Woodstock need not be 
doubted, for, after all, we may disbelieve that Thomas 
Chaucer was the son of the poet without disbelieving that 
the poet, who was connected with the court and with princes 
of the blood, visited a palace so famous in his time and so 
much frequented. Shakespeare would enjoy the Chaucer 
memory, at least, with no allaying scepticism ; and as he 
strolled through that glorious park, might have a vision of 
Theseus, to be portrayed perhaps by himself some day, " to 
the laund riding him full right," or of Palamon and Arcite 
madly fighting — fighting 

"breem, as it were boares two." 

in a hammock like an Indian. Hence we went to Dichley, an ancient 
seat of the Lees, now Sir Hen. Lee's ; it is a low, ancient timber-house, 
with a pretty bowling-green. My lady gave us an extraordinary dinner. 
This gentleman's mother was Countess of Rochester, who was also 
there, and Sir Walter Saint John. There were some pictures of their 
ancestors not ill-painted ; the great-grandfather had been Knight of the 
Garter ; there was the picture of a Pope, and our Saviour's head. So 
we returned to Combury." — Evelyn's Diary, Oct. izo, 1664. This Sir 
Henry Lee would be, so far as date goes — Bevis belonged to the grand- 
£Bither — Scott's hero. It would have pleased the author of Woodstock 
to know, that the Will whom his hero is for ever quoting, must often 
have passed close by Ditchley Park, and might have patted the head, 
or pinched the ear, of his admirer when a boy. 


Or, perhaps, in a realistic vein, he drew a grotesque picture to 
himself of the royal lover losing the thread and finding himself 
involved in his own labyrinth, with his Rosamond close by, 
yet inaccessible, so near and yet so far, while the queen sat 
fuming and frowning outside, unable to discover the aperture 
through which her truant spouse had disappeared. 

Woodstock would have also associations with his own time. 
The palace had been one of the places of the queen's con- 
finement during her sister's reign. It was here she heard the 
milkmaid singing, and envied her happy lot. The verses 
she is said to have written upon that occasion may have been 
still decipherable in Shakespeare's time, and he may have 
perused them on their extraordinary tablet : — 

** O Fortune, how thy restless, wavering state 
Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit ! 
Witness this present prison whither fate 
Could bear me, and the joys I quit. 
Thou caused'st the guilty to be losed 
From bands wherein are innocents enclosed ; 
Causing me guiltless to be straight reserved. 
And freeing those that death hath well deserved. 
But by her envy can be nothing wrought ; 
So God send to my foes all they have thought." 
A.D. 1555. Elizabeth, Prisoner. 

And so, by Begbrooke and Wolvercote, with a drink, per- 
haps, at Aristotle's well, into Oxford by St. Giles's Street, to 
the Crown, or, perhaps, on his first visit, to some humbler 

What a revelation of delight and beauty to the youth from 
Stratford ! It would form an epoch in his life, this first 
passing under the spell of Oxford. It was Uke entering the 
Presence. The colleges, already venerable, seemed the very 
homes of learning and thought. His shrewd observation 
would, indeed, presently suggest to him that folly and igno- 


ranee had here and there intruded themselves, and that 
often the Muses must be blushing for those called their sons ; 
but so broad and wise a critic would never make the blunder 
of forgetting in certain abuses the magnificent uses and the 
magnificent fruits of the great school within whose precincts 
his heart beat with a new rapture. It was a temple dedi- 
cated to Wisdom, and we may believe he bowed his head in 
it with a sincere worship. To say nothing else, the mere 
outward beauty of the place, its halls and quadrangles and 
groves, its antiquity, which showed as " a lusty winter, frosty 
but kindly," its stately towers, the majestic river on whose 
waters its fair face was mirrored — the mere outward beauty 
of the place would gladden his inmost soul. 

(iii) From Oxford to High Wycombe^ 25 miles. — ^The 
common route from Oxford to London was by Tetsworth, 
High Wycombe, and Beaconsfield. It was by this route 
that Brunetto Latini, from whom we have already quoted, pro- 
ceeded in the thirteenth century. Harrison, in the Elizabethan 
age, in his chapter on Thoroughfares, mentions it. This is 
his list of the intermediate places : " Whatleie, Thetisford, 
Stocking-church, East Wickham, Becconsfield, Uxbridge." 
The Stratford citizens went this way on the occasion referred 
to above. So Evelyn, in 1664, going "with my lord visct. 
Cornbury to Cornbury in Oxfordshire, to assist him in the 
planting of the park and bear him company, with Mr. Belin 
and Mr. May, in a coach with six horses ; dined at Uxbridge, 
lay at Wickam." Returning from Oxford, " we came back by 
Beaconsfield ; next day to London, where we dined at the 
lord Chancellor's with my lord Bellasis." And endless 
other instances might be given. But the route by Henley 
is scarcely four miles longer, and no doubt was often taken. 

Shakespeare would pass down " the High," and beneath 
Magdalen Tower, across Magdalen Bridge, and then turn to 


the left. He might keep to the main road, go on up Hed- 
dington Hill, and so pass near Forest Hill, where the Powells 
lived, with whom Milton was to be one day connected, per- 
haps exchanging a " good morrow " with the future father of 
Mary ; or, more probably, he would take the nearer road 
which runs just north of Horspath, and so to Wheatley. 
Then crossing the Thame, on to Tetsworth, where he might 
pause to look at the rude sculptures over the south doorway 
of the church. Then mounting the hill in front of him, he 
would find the Chilterns now close at hand, stretching from 
north to south before him like a wall, here richly beech- 
wooded, there bare down. Near Aston Rowant, which lies 
a little to the north of the road, there were objects of interest 
on either hand that might well have attracted him, did his 
leisure serve. Some two miles to the south there was Shirbume 
Castle, looking much as we see it now, much as the men of 
the fourteenth century had seen it, with its towers and 
moat and drawbridges, as perfect a representation of the 
Middle Ages as exists, we suppose, at least exteriorly ; the 
interior is modernized. It was here, but not in the present 
building, which dates from 1377 according to Murray, that 
Brunetto Latini passed a night. Some eight miles to the 
north from Aston Rowant, he would find localized traditions 
of a king on whom he was himself to confer immortal dis- 
tinction; for the Kimbles — Great Kimble, Little Kimble, 
and Kimblewick — near Princes Risborough, are said to have 
derived their name from Cymbeline, or Kimbelinus aj^^ti 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, Kimbel apud Robert of Gloucester. 
A yet older form of his name — the form found on certain 
coins — is found close by in Cunobelin^s Camp. The mound 
by Great Kimble church, the Whiteleaf Cross on Green 
Holly Hill, and the earthwork just mentioned, all give to the 
neighbourhood a strange traditional interest. And it has 
other charms. The view to the west, from near Cunobelin's 


Camp, is of unusual extent and beauty ; and it is good to be 
there for a summer's evening. . 

" He looked and saw wide territory spread 
Before him, towns and rural works between." 

Let us now go on our way from Aston Rowant to the 
Chilterns, by Stokenchurch Hill to Stokenchurch. Thick 
wood still covers the sides of the Chilterns here ; the thieves 
that once swarmed in them are no more, or rather have 
transferred themselves to some other beat, for we cannot 
flatter ourselves or them that they have grown honest. They 
only do not rob here because there is no one to rob, and 
because that way of doing the business is something out of 
date. Stokenchurch has now a deserted look ; it seems 
created for coaches to drive through, and at the present 
time they are like angels' visits. On now across the 
Common into Buckinghamshire, to West Wycombe, not in 
Shakespeare's time deformed by a church so unsightly and in 
such vile taste, with its " hypgethral mausoleum," which looks 
rather like an overgrown pound. And so to High or Chip- 
ping Wycombe, called also by Harrison", as we have seen, 
East Wycombe, whose most interesting feature is its large 
and handsome church, with its fine Perpendicular tower. 

(iv) From High Wycombe to London^ 29 miles. — The road 
runs alongsideof the Wick till, when a mile beyond Loudwater, 
that streamlet turns south towards the Thames ; and then 
makes for Beaconsfield, to be made famous in after days by 
the residence of Waller (at Hall Barns) and Burke (at 
Gregory's, or Butler's Court, as he named it). The church 
lies close by the wayside, and might well attract the travel- 
ler's notice. And now on by a gentle descent, passing on 
the right of Bulstrode Park, with its old earthwork and 
legend of Saxon daring, and then across the common by 
Gerard's or Jarrett's Cross. And so crossing the Colne into 


Middlesex, to Uxbridge, in whose main street still stand 
many houses that, to judge from their appearance and style, 
were there when Shakespeare passed through. The place 
has long outshone its mother village. " Though," says a 
writer^ in 1761, "it is entirely independent, and is governed 
by two bailiffs, two constables, and four head-boroughs, it is 
only a hamlet to Great Hillington " \sic\ 

The road would now, no doubt, begin to give evidence of 
the proximity of the metropolis in an increasing number of 
passengers. The attractive force of the great centre would 
be more manifestly shown, and Shakespeare would see a 
striking illustration of one of his own similes : — 

*' As many arrows, loosed several ways, 

Come to one mark ; as many ways meet in one town ; 

As many fresh streams meet in one salt sea ; 

As many lines close in the dial's centre ; 

So may a thousand actions, once afoot. 

End in one purpose, and be aU well borne 

Without defeat." 

From Hillingdon Hill, with Harrow on his left and 
Windsor in the distance on his right, he would look down 
on the champaign in which London lies. And then, now on 
the very threshold of his Promised Land, across Hillingdon 
Heath, and through Northcote, near Southall ; over Hanwell 
Common, through Ealing dean to Acton, by Kensington 
Gravel Pits, through Tyburn, all along what is now Oxford 
Street as far as High Street, when, following the old line, 
he would turn south by St. Giles'-in-the-Fields (then really 
so), and along Broad Street, and so along Holbom, houses 
now beginning to multiply around him, and so, at last, into 

^ London and its Environs , &c., 6 vols. Printed for R. and J. 
Dodsley. 1761. 




IN 1605. 

(From Frazer^s Magazine ^ April, 1878.) 

NOT many other distinctions belong to Stratford-on- 
Avon besides its sovereign honour of being Shake- 
speare's birthplace and home ; which, indeed, is distinction 
enough and to spare. " I am sure, sir," said a worthy in- 
habitant, who was showing us something or other supposed 
to be of Shakespearian interest ; " I am sure, sir, we ought 
to be very much obliged to Mr. Shakespeare for being bom 
here, for I don't know what we should have done without 
him." The trade of the place may be described as Shake- 
speare ; and we believe it is not a bad business. The entire 
town might not inaptly put up above it a gigantic signboard 
inscribed with the single name of that supreme article of 
commerce. No town in the Middle Ages ever turned its 
saint to better account. Nowhere and never have relics 
been more zealously sought after and treasured up. To 
think what a single shoe of the hero would now fetch, if only 
devouring time had spared one; or a doublet — who shall 
calculate the present market price of a Shakespearian 
doublet ? 

The other notabilities of the place are few; not many 
could be expected, its size and importance considered. It is 
said to have produced three eminent ecclesiastics in the 
fourteenth century, two brothers and a kinsman — ^John 
Stratford, Archbishop of Canterbury; Robert, Bishop of 

26 jEssa ys and notes. 

Chichester ; and Ralph, Bishop of London. Southern, too, 
the dramatist, has been stated to be a native, by Nuttall, 
editor of Fuller's Worthies ; but Southern was bom in 
Ireland, co. Dublin. Perhaps the most remarkable histori- 
cal association that is commonly known, is Queen Henrietta's 
temporary residence in the town, and at New Place, in the 
house that had been Shakespeare's, in June and July, 1643. 
We propose now to speak of another historical association 
that may be claimed for Stratford. Strangely enough, it has 
been little noticed, though an acquaintance with it cannot 
fail to add interest to a visit there, especially when we re- 
mark that it belongs to Shakespeare's own time. There is 
nothing said of it in Wheler's History of Stratford; nor, it 
need perhaps scarcely be said, in such minor compilations 
as Black's Warwickshire^ 01 Wise's Shakespeare^ his Birth- 
place and its Neighbourhood ; nor yet in such really well-in- 
formed and valuable volumes as Knight's Biography and 
Halliwell-Phillipps' Life of the poet, though we have no 
doubt Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps knows what there is to be 
known about it. Nor is there a word respecting it in the 
poem that has for its subject the locality specially concerned 
— ^Jordan's Welcombe Hills^ published just a century ago. 
Perhaps the knowledge of such an interest might have im- 
parted some vigour into at least one paragraph of that 
nerveless production. What we mean, and propose now to 
show, is that Stratford and its neighbourhood are very inti- 
mately connected with Gunpowder Plot. 


Where Shakespeare was in 1605 it is impossible to say. 
Possibly, he was the greater part of the year in London and 
the rest at Stratford. ** He was wont to go to his native 


country once a year," says Aubrey. More probably, perhaps, 
he was the greater part of the year in Stratford and not in 
London ; but he may have been " strolling " with his com- 
pany, if the common opinion is not accepted that he gave 
over acting early in King James's reign. He " frequented 
the plays all his younger time," says Ward, in his Diary, 
1662 ; "but in his elder days lived at Stratford, and supplied 
the stage with two plays every year." Wherever he was, 
there can be little question that he shared the general horror 
the discovery of the Powder Treason, as Bacon calls it, ex- 
cited throughout the land; and that his interest in that 
hideous affair would be deepened by the fact that one of its 
chief nurseries lay close by his own home, and another but a 
few miles off. 

The one close by his own home was Clopton House, about 
a mile north of Stratford, lying at the foot of the western 
slope of the Welcombe Hills. It belonged at this time to 
the Baron Carew of Clopton (for so Sir George had been 
created in the preceding May) in right of his wife Lady 
Joyce, daughter of William Clopton; but it was let, or rather 
sublet, to Ambrose Rookwood, one of the chief conspirators, 
some weeks before the fatal November ; and there, during 
those weeks, Rookwood resided, and from time to time re- 
ceived in his house his partners in the intended crime. 
Clopton House then was one of the headquarters of the treason. 

Only a few miles off was Norbrook, of which we will speak 
presently, and at no great distance were two other spots 
concerned in the same infamy — Lapworth and Coughton. 
All these four places are in the hundred of Barlichway, in 
which Stratford is situated. 

At Bushwood, near Lapworth, was born the chief concoctor 
of the plot, the heart and soul of it, Robert Catesby. Other 
estates were possessed by his family, notably at Ashby St. 

28 ^^S-^^ ys AND NOTES. 

Legers in Northamptonshire; but it was at Bushwood 
(which, oddly enough — who wishes, may see an explanation 
in Dugdale — was a part of the parish of old Stratford) that 
his father, Sir William, had mostly resided, and here, in 1573, 
was born he who was to achieve the notoriety of a Catiline. 
He was the direct descendant of the Catesby whom Shake- 
speare had represented in his play of Richard III, — the first 
item of the old doggrel : 

" The Cat, the Rat, and Lovell that Dog, 
Rule all England under the Hog." 

His mother was a daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton of 
Coughton, and so the sister of the Throckmorton on whom 
the pains of persecution for religion's sake had pressed so 
heavily. Thus, by race on both sides, as well as by place, 
he was linked to Warwickshire. These links were further 
strengthened by his marrying a daughter of Sir Thomas 
Leigh of Stoneleigh. According to Lingard he was origi- 
nally a Protestant ; and, as has been pointed out, his 
marriage seems to countenance the statement, as the Leighs 
were so. Whatever check on his tendencies towards the 
old faith his matrimonial alliance may have imposed, was 
presently removed by his wife's death ; and he threw himself 
with all the ardour of a vehement, headstrong nature into 
the Recusant cause. As we shall mention again presently, 
he took part in the Earl of Essex's insurrection. He was 
afterwards involved in all the treasonable projects of the 
discontented Roman Catholics during the last two years of 
Queen Elizabeth's reign; and it appears from a letter of 
Camden's dated only nine days before the Queen's death, 
that Catesby and several other gentlemen, " hunger-starved 
for innovations," among whom were Sir Edward Baynham 
and the two Wrights (all of them conspirators in the Gun- 


powder Treason), were at that time committed by the Lords 
of the Council for some seditious movements. Such was 
the restless, intriguing spirit to whom must be assigned the 
chief authorship of the Powder Plot. " At his death," says 
Stow, " he said that the plot and practice of this treason was 
only his, and that all others were but his assistants, chosen 
by himself to that purpose, and that the honour thereof only 
belonged to himself." We must not forget that the wrongs he 
saw daily inflicted around him on his co-religionists were sorely 
oppressive, and such as might well goad him to a fierce indig- 
nation. Shortsighted and diabolical as his scheme was, it is yet 
credible that the motives that instigated it were not alto- 
gether base. Certainly he seems to have kindled an admi- 
ration and enthusiasm that no merely ignoble nature could 
have kindled. There is a certain lustre about him, even in 
the midst of his obstinate folly and horrible guilt. Some- 
thing of what is Divine, however devilish the work his hands 
are set about, is yet present in the man for whom and near 
whom others are ready to die. His comrades seem to have 
been drawn and attached to him by a singular fascination. 
He might truly say with Edmund, when " the wheel had 
come full circle," "yet Catesby was beloved." King he 
was amongst them. 

Also Lapworth-born was another of the conspirators, of 
humbler rank — Thomas Bates, an old servant of Catesby's. 
He was not one of the original sharers of the scheme ; but 
as he had been employed about Vinegar House — the house 
hired in the Palace Yard, Westminster — and so had inevitably 
seen something of what was going on, it was thought well to 
take him into full partnership. 

Lapworth is some eleven miles from Stratford ; but we 
have given it precedence of Norbrook because of its con- 
nection with the leading conspirator. Norbrook is only 


some five miles from Shakespeare's town. It lies a little off" 
the Warwick road, to the left, very near Coplow Hill. It was 
an old manor-house, wherein at the time that concerns us 
resided John Grant with his brothers, who also were impli- 
cated in the plot, though not to the same extent as John ; 
for John was one of the thirteen chief traitors. " This man- 
sion-house was conveniently placed for the purpose of the 
conspirators, being in the centre of their proposed rendez- 
vous and of the most populous part of Warwickshire, between 
the towns of Warwick and Stratford-on- Avon. It was walled 
and moated, and well calculated from its great extent for the 
reception of horses and ammunition. At the present day, 
little remains of it but the name. Some fragments of mas- 
sive stone walls are, however, still to be found, and the line 
of the moat may be distinctly traced ; an ancient hall of 
large dimensions is also apparent among the partitions and 
disfigurations of a modern farmer's kitchen. The identity 
of the house is fixed, not only by its name and local situa- 
tion, but by a continuing tradition that this was the residence 
of one of the gunpowder conspirators ; and still more con- 
clusively by the circumstance that an old part of the build- 
ing, which was taken down a few years ago, was known by 
the name of the Powder Room." 

To understand the statement that Norbrook was " in the 
centre of their proposed rendezvous," it must be remembered 
that the blowing up of the House of Lords was to be fol- 
lowed by a general Papist insurrection. The existing Govern- 
ment having been summarily disposed of, a new one was to be 
formed, at the head of which was to be placed the Princess 
Elizabeth, she who was in after years the " Winter Queen " 
of Bohemia. At this time she also was living in Warwick- 
shire — at Combe Abbey, some four or five miles east of 
Coventry, in the care of Lord Harington ; and the design 


of Catesby and his party was, immediately after the explosion, 
to seize her at Combe and proclaim her accession to the 
throne. Of all such subsequent operations Warwickshire 
was to be the base ; and Norbrook was to be the Warwick- 
shire magazine. 

Lapworth and Norbrook, then, as the homes of three of 
the chief ringleaders in the Plot, are places of no slight im- 
portance in its history. They and the district in which they 
lie are further distinguished by the temporary sojourn of 
others of the notorious thirteen. At Catesby's instance the 
AVrights — ^John and Christopher — took up their abode at 
Lapworth ; Ambrose Rookwood, as we have seen, at Clop- 
ton House; and Sir Everard Digby at Coughton Court, 
about eleven miles to the west of Stratford, near Alcester. 
Coughton Court was the seat of the Throckmortons. The 
present owner was a minor, and it may readily be supposed 
that Catesby, whose mother, as we have mentioned, was a 
Throckmorton, would have no difficulty in arranging for its 
temporary occupation by one of his friends. So thither, in 
October, proceeded Sir Everard and his family, along with 
Father Garnet and others, quitting for the nonce, as he 
thought, his own seat at Gayhurst, or Gothurst, near New- 
port Pagnell in Buckinghamshire, in effect quitting it for 

Thus, shortly before the day fixed for the explosion, no 
less than seven of the arch-traitors, to say nothing of minor 
persons, might have been found in the hundred of Barlich- 
way. As the time drew near, Catesby sold his property 
at Bushwood (to Sir Edward Grevile of Milcote, near Strat- 
ford) in order to provide funds for his enterprise. But none 
the less did Warwickshire remain the general rendezvous. 

One other part of the county was to be made memorable 
by its connection with this wild, execrable folly. This was 


Dunsmore Heath, on the other side, a few miles south of 
Rugby, stretching to the east of Dunchurch. " The bloody 
hunting match at Dunchurch " was the name given to " the 
meet " to which Sir Everard Digby invited the Roman 
Catholic gentry for Tuesday, November 5th. To do these 
gentlemen justice, it must be noticed that they knew little 
or nothing of the iniquity that had been concocted, or of what 
was to follow it. There was a general impression that some 
Recusant movement was afoot, but no particulars had been 
vouchsafed. One cannot but believe that, had the scheme 
of the conspirators been disclosed to them in all its enormity, 
they would at once have repudiated and denounced it. It 
is true that they were smarting beneath grievous injustice, 
heavy and perpetual fines exacted from them, personal 
penalties occasionally inflicted, but all this persecution had 
not divested them of humanity and rendered them capable 
of an atrocity that would justify the old adage, "homo 
homini lupus," or a fresh reading of it, " homo homini dia- 
bolus." The conspirators themselves had not attained such 
hardness of heart with "no compunctious visitings of 
nature." Even of Catesby so much may be believed, and 
of the others with scarcely an exception so much is known. 
They recoiled when Catesby first revealed his horrid purpose. 
Not at once were they " settled," and could — 

** Bind up 
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat." 

Nature, says the old poet, in giving men tears, confesses she 
gives them most tender hearts. 

** Mollissima corda 
Humano generi dare se natura fatetur 
Quae lacrumas dedit." 

And tears cannot harden into frost in an instant ; petrifac- 


tion, thank Heaven, is a slow process, and ofttimes may be 
retarded, may be prevented. Certainly, those Recusant 
gentlemen who mustered at the Lion Inn at Dunchurch and 
the Bull at Coventry that Monday and Tuesday in November, 
1605, were not so lost to all sense of sound patriotism and 
true manhood, as that they would have aided and abetted 
such devilry as Catesby and his gang had brought themselves 
to believe was of God, godly. But there they were, unin- 
formed, wondering, probably expecting that their game was 
to be something more than hares, and assuredly ready to 
strike a good blow, if opportunity was given, for what was in 
their eyes the cause of Heaven. 

In this same part of the county, at Shelford, lived John 
Littleton, who it was hoped would join Stephen and the 
others on the Heath. 

Thus intimately was Warwickshire associated with the 
Gunpowder Conspiracy. We may just add that Hud- 
dington, or Uddington, the home of the Winters — Thomas 
and Robert, two more of the chief Thirteen — lies but just 
beyond the western frontier of this same county, no great 
distance from Alcester and Coughton ; that Ashby St. Legers 
is situated just over the eastern border, but a few miles from 
Dunchurch ; and that Holbeach, where at last the ring- 
leaders were brought to bay, is in Staffordshire, the county 
which bounds Warwickshire on the north-west. 


It is clear that the conspiracy would excite a very special 
interest in every Warwickshire man and in Shakespeare. 
Counties were more sharply distinguished, and county feel- 
ing ran far higher in the old days than now, though it is by no 
means extinct yet, nor likely to be. Wherever Shakespeare 



was in the autumn of 1605, there can be no question, as we 
have already said, that the horrid tale at which men stood 
aghast would affect him the more deeply for its association 
with his own neighbourhood. Had a Romanist rising taken 
place, Stratford itself might have been the scene of blood- 
shed and outrage. And, as a fact, conspiracy had found 
close by 

** A cavern dark enough 
To mask" its ** monstrous visage." 

In the midst of the peaceful hills that rose almost within 
sight of New Place (the poet's property since 1597) treason 
had made its lair. Besides the interest of locality, it is 
fairly certain that he must have felt another interest in the 
plot, arising from personal knowledge of some of its mem- 
bers. We are not about to advance a theory that Shake- 
speare was himself a powder plotter — that Guy Fawkes was 
his " sworn brother ; " though, indeed, there is quite as much 
— not to say more — to be said for such a theory as for many 
with which the world is favoured. We commend it to the 
attention of the brilliant ready-made critics with whom 
our age is abundantly adorned ; and, for ourselves, all we 
wish to point out is, that Shakespeare must in all probability 
have been brought into personal contact with several of the 
traitors. If at Stratford in September and October, he 
would grow familiar, by sight at least, with Rookwood and- 
his brother and their visitors — amongst others Grant, "Mr. 
Winter," " Mr. Wright " (the document we quote does not 
specify which of the Winters, or which of the Wrights), 
Catesby. Grant, too, he may have seen at other times in 
the streets of Stratford, or on the Warwick road. But it is of 
a possible acquaintance in London that we are thinking; it is 
of the fact that Catesby, Grant, Tresham, the Wrights, and 
Thomas Winter, had all been actively concerned in the 


rebellion, or miserable failure of a rebellion, attempted by 
the Earl of Essex in February, 1601. 

Here again is a fine opening for a theory. What a temp- 
tation to prove that Shakespeare was an uncompromising 
partisan of that unfortunate nobleman. However, as we do 
not believe he was so, we shall deny ourselves the pleasure 
of proving it, and be content to remark that, without being 
a rabid partisan, he yet was attracted by a nature which with 
all its faults — they were neither few nor slight — seems to 
have been singularly winning and lovable. The mention 
of Essex in Henry V, deserves especial notice and consider- 
ation. It is quite unique in its kind. The poet is wishing 
to suggest parallels to the enthusiastic welcome the victor of 
Agincourt received from his people on his return from that 
famous field. He says, even so did the people of Rome 
greet their Caesar when he came home triumphant; and 
even so would the people of England greet their Essex, 
were he now returning in glory from his Irish campaign. 

** But now behold. 
In the quick forge and working-house of thought, 
How London doth pour out her citizens ! 
The mayor and all his brethren in best sort, 
Like to the senators of the antique Rome, 
"With the plebeians swarming at their heels. 
Go forth and fetch their conquering Casar in ; 
As by a lower but laving likelihood^ 
Were now the general of our gracious Empress, 
As in good time he may, from Ireland coming 
Bringing rebellion broached on his sword. 
How many would the peaceful city quit. 
To welcome him ! Much more, and much more cause, 
Did they this Harry." 

This " loving likelihood " — observe that " loving " — was 
never to be fulfilled. It was rather himself than rebellion 
that poor Essex brought back "broached on his sword.'' 


But such an introduction of him, and in such language, by a 
writer so chary of such allusions, is surely significant of a 
more than common feeling of interest and affection. There 
is another fact pointing decisively in the same direction. It 
is Shakespeare's intimate friendship with the Earl of South- 
ampton, who was Essex's most intimate friend. " The love 
I dedicate to your lordship," runs the brief letter to South- 
ampton that prefaces The Rape of Lticrece^ " is without end. 
. . . . What I have done is yours; what I have to do is 
yours ; being part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my 
worth greater, my duty would show greater. Meantime, as 
it is, it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish long life 
still lengthened with all happiness." These words, which 
surely sound a note of sincerity often unheard in such epistles, 
were written in 1594; but there is good ground for believing 
that the feeling they express was no transient emotion, but 
deep-rooted and flourishing to the end. This dear friend 
was, we repeat, also Essex's dear friend. He was one of his 
truest and faithfuUest supporters that fatal Sunday when 
Essex, halting between ever so many opinions, half paralyzed 
it would seem by the fearful difficulties amidst which he 
found himself, confused and confounded by the clamour and 
fury of the followers who filled the court of his house, and were 
eager for action, however foolish and desperate, " extremely 
appalled as divers that happened to see him then might 
visibly perceive in his face and countenance, and almost 
moulten with sweat, though without any cause of bodily 
labour, but only by the perplexity and horror of his mind," 
passed forth into Fleet Street on the way to inevitable disaster 
and ruin. At his trial, which soon followed, Southampton 
stood side by side with him, and was condemned at the same 
time. And, though he did not share his fate — in death they 
were divided — for two long years he lay in the Tower under 


sentence of death. Such being Southampton's devotion to 
Essex, and such Shakespeare's to Southampton, Shakespeare's 
confessed relation to Essex being also such as we have seen, 
we cannot doubt that Shakespeare would have some personal 
knowledge of Essex's chief partisans, amongst whom, as has 
been mentioned, were several of the Powder Plotters. 

That extreme and violent Papists should rally around 
Essex may seem not a little surprising, when we call to mind 
his Puritan sympathies and connections. During the weeks 
that ushered in the end, " the most eminent Puritan divines 
preached daily at Essex House, to hear whose sermons the 
citizens flocked in great numbers." We wonder if Catesby 
and his intimates " sat under " these orators ? We presume 
that, with a dispensation, they might lawfully do so. The 
whole history of the Essex riot, or whatever it is to be called, 
is far from clear. Probably the misguided leader scarcely 
knew himself what he would be at He was a governor who 
did not govern, a leader that was led ; and so all kinds of 
unquiet folk gathered around him. His house was a very 
cave of Adullam, and with but slight variation one might 
quote the well-known description : " Everyone that was in 
distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that 
was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he 
became a captain [a merely nominal one] over them ; and 
there were with him about " three " hundred men." An 
odd, ill-assorted conflux. "Misery acquaints a man with 
strange bedfellows." But indeed there would be much in 
these Puritan discourses that the Recusant party would hear 
with thorough complacency and satisfaction. " The Puritans 
were in the habit of justifying resistance to authority, and 
one of the preachers at Essex House went so far as to say 
that the great magistrates of the kingdom had power, in case 
of necessity, to control and restrain the Sovereign." 


Again, the Earl and his friends had a great liking for 
theatrical entertainments. "My Lord Southampton and 
Lord Rutland come not to the Court," writes Rowland 
White towards the close of 1599; "the one doth, but very 
seldom ; they pass away the time in London merely in 
going to plays every day." We might be pretty sure, if 
there was no evidence on the point, that the company whose 
services would be called into requisition, or whose theatre 
would be frequented, would be that of which Shakespeare 
was a member. But one piece of evidence there is. " The 
afternoon before the Rebellion, Merrick, with a great com- 
pany of others that afterwards were all in the action, had 
procured to be played before them the play of deposing 
* King Richard II.' When it was told him by one of the 
players that the play was old, and they should have loss in 
playing it, because few would come to it, there was forty 
shillings extraordinary given to play, and so thereupon 
played it was." Whether the play thus performed by special 
request and arrangement was Shakespeare's Richard II, or 
some other, it was. certainly Shakespeare's company that 
was thus negotiated with; for in another account of the 
transaction is given the name of the player with whom the 
bargain was struck. It was Philips, and Philips was one of 
Shakespeare's company. 

Thus Shakespeare was probably brought into contact with 
several of the Plotters, not only socially but professionally. 
He had acted before them, and his plays no doubt had been 
acted before them again and again. 

We may confidently believe, then, that besides the general 
interest in the conspiracy he would feel as an Englishman, 
there would be for Shakespeare other special interests, 
springing both from local and personal associations. The 
thing would have for him a singular nearness and reality. 



Having now pointed out fully enough for our purpose the 
close connection of the Plotters with Shakespeare's county 
and with himself, we will for a short space turn our eyes 
again towards Clopton, the suburb of Shakespeare's own 
town, and see what little is to be seen of what went on there. 

It was there, as has been already twice mentioned, that 
Rookwood and his family located themselves in September, 

The house stands in a neighbourhood where Shakespeare 
possessed property, and with which he had in the very year 
that especially concerns us formed a fresh monetary con- 
nection. In Mky, 1602, he had bought land in that part 
from William and John Combe — 107 acres of arable land. 
" In July, 1605," writes Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, in that trea- 
sure-house of sound and accurate information, bar the accep- 
tance of certain forgeries, his Life of Shakespeare, " Shake- 
speare made the largest purchase he ever completed, giving 
the sum of ;^44o [equal to some ;£^i,75o of our money] for 
the unexpired term of a moiety of a lease, granted in 1544 
for ninety-two years, of the tithes of Stratford, Old Stratford, 
Bishopton, and Welcombe. In the indenture of conveyance 
he is described as of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman ; and, 
as he is similarly designated three years earlier, when we 
know that he was in London, we may conclude that after 
the purchase of New Place he had taken up his permanent 
abode in his native town." This would of course be con- 
sistent with long visits to London from time to time. Pro- 
bably enough his home had been at Stratford all along, only 
he had been mostly away from it. " It appears from a letter," 
written by Abraham Sturley, January 24, 1597-8, "that 


as early as 1598 the subject of Shakespeare becoming the 
purchaser of these tithes had been mooted at Stratford, and 
the management of them would probably require great pru- 
dential care. It is not impossible that confidence was enter- 
tained in Shakespeare's tact and judgment, and that this, 
as well as his command of capital, produced the desire of 
the Council of Stratford, who received a rent from these 
tithes, that he should become the purchaser." And then 
follows a copy of the indenture (pp. 210-6). Mr. Phillipps 
also quotes from a copy of a rent-roll of the borough of 
Stratford the following note : " Mr. Thomas Combes and 
Mr. William Shakespear do hold all manner of tithes of 
corn, grain, and hay in the towns, hamlets, villages, and 
fields of Old Stratford, Welcomb, and Bishopton, and all 
manner of tithes of wool, lamb, hemp, flax, and other 
small and privy tithes, for the yearly rent of xxxiiij IL, 
payable at our Lady Day and Michaelmas." 

According to the Beauties of England and Wales ^ 1814, 
" Clopton House is a venerable mansion, probably erected 
in the latter part of the fifteenth century; but some modem 
exterior alterations detract much from the general effect of 
the building. In different apartments are preserved a few 
pictures, and some curious articles of ancient furniture, 
among which is a bed, said to have been given to Sir Hugh 
Clopton by King Henry VII." Not far from it — ^a furlong 
or two — at Welcombe, lived Shakespeare's fiiend John 
Combe. His house (the present one standing there is "quite 
a recent erection ") nestled in a southern recess of the hills 
that derived their name from it, or rather from the " cwm " 
where it stood. ** To the west of Alveston," says Britton, 
" are Welcombe Hills, the celebrated scene of warlike opera- 
tions between the Britons and Saxons. Here are extensive 
entrenchments, termed the Dingles, which appear to have 


been formed by the latter people [they are probably British, 
to begin with at least], and numerous other earthworks, 
some of which were probably thrown up to cover the remains 
of those who fell in battle. The rugged features of this 
neighbourhood are softened by Welcombe Lodge, the hand- 
some residence of George Lloyd, Esq.," "John a'Combe*s" 
successor. It was in this vicinity that an inclosure was 
attempted in 16 14, and successfully resisted by the Corpo- 
ration, with whom Shakespeare seems to have cordially 
acted. There is a brief glimpse of him in that year, in a 
memorandum made by one Thomas Green, clerk of the 
Corporation, who had been despatched to London about 
this business: " 1614 Jovis 17 No. My cousin Shakspear 
coming yesterday to town, I went to see how he did. He 
told me that they assured him they meant to inclose no 
farther than to Gospel Bush, and so up straight (leaving out 
part of the dingles to the field) to the gate in Clopton Lodge, 
and take in Salisbury piece ; and that they mean in April to 
survey the land, and then to give satisfaction and not before ; 
and he and Mr. Hall say they think there will be nothing 
done at all." Nor was the great poet's sagacity at fault in 
the matter. Nothing was done at all; though he did not 
himself live to see the common ground secured to his fellow 
citizens. " A petition on the subject was presented to the 
Privy Council ; and in 16 18 an order was made, not only 
forbidding the inclosure, but peremptorily commanding that 
some steps which Combe actually seems to have commenced 
in it should be at once retraced." The other memorandum 
of Green's is as follows : " 23 Dec. A hall. Letters written 
to Mr. Manyring [Mainwaring], another to Mr. Shakspear, 
with almost all the company's hands to either. I also writ 
myself to my cousin Shakspear [he was still in London ?] 
the copies of all our acts, and then also a note of the incon- 


veniences would happen by the inclosure." Clearly, for 
private reasons if not for public, Shakespeare was much 
interested in this Welcombe district. 

In the heart, then, of a neighbourhood so well known to 
and intimately connected with Shakespeare, came Rook- 
wood to reside, as we have said. The official duties of Lord 
Carew must have seldom permitted any protracted occu- 
pancy of his house by himself, even since his return from 
Ireland. In his absence at this time, Robert Wilson, Lord 
Carew's tenant, was persuaded to admit the stranger from 
Suffolk, Grant and one of the Winters assuring him of the 
stranger's intimacy with his master. 

He came from Coldham Hall, in the parish of Stanning- 
field, where his house, built in 1574, still stands. He "was 
born of Roman Catholic parents," says Jardine, " and care- 
fully brought up from his childhood in the Roman Catholic 
faith. He had received his education at one of the Roman 
Catholic universities in Flanders ; and when he succeeded 
to his inheritance upon his father's death, in 1600, his house 
in Suffolk became, as it had been in his father's time, a 
common asylum for persecuted priests, and mass was con- 
stantly performed there ; in consequence of which he was 
subjected to repeated prosecutions and penalties. It is re- 
markable that he had been indicted for recusancy at the 
London and Middlesex Sessions in February, 1604-5, after 
the Gunpowder Plot had been contrived and arranged. He 
married a daughter of Sir William Tyrwhit, of Kettleby, in 
Lincolnshire, by whom he had two or three children. He 
possessed an ample estate, and was specially remarkable for 
his fine stud of horses, a circumstance which made him a 
particularly desirable acquisition to the conspirators. At 
the period of which we are speaking he was twenty-seven 
years of age. He had been long the intimate friend of 


Catesby, whom he says * he loved and respected as his own 
life ; ' and attachment to him, and the contagion of religious 
enthusiasm, drew Rookwood from the bosom of his family, 
and bound him to this rash and desperate conspiracy." 

It was not till about Michaelmas, 1605, that Rookwood 
was admitted into the horrid league, which had then existed 
for some year and a half, it being in Lent, 1604, that Catesby 
and John Wright and Thomas Winter first formed it. This 
admission must have taken place about the time of the first 
of the two eclipses, which to the superstition of the age 
threatened evil things. In September was a lunar, early in 
October a solar, eclipse ; and the popular mind held with 
Gloucester in King Lear that " these late eclipses in the sun 
and moon portend no good to us " — a passage we shall con- 
sider again by-and-by. It was in London that same Sep- 
tember that " Catesby told him that * for the ancient love he 
had borne unto him, he would impart a matter of impor- 
tance unto him ; ' and then, after administering the oath of 
secrecy, he revealed to him the design of blowing up the 
King and the Parliament House with powder. Rookwood 
states that he was * somewhat amazed ' at the proposal, and 
asked * how such as were Catholics and divers other friends 
should be preserved ; ' Catesby answered that * a trick should 
be put upon them.' Then Rookwood objected that * it was 
a matter of conscience to take away so much blood.' But 
Catesby assured him that * he might be satisfied on that 
head, for though he had not yet put that case in particular 
to any, he had put the like case, and had been resolved by 
good authority that in conscience it might be done.' Rook- 
wood still expressing scruples of conscience respecting the 
lawfulness of the action, Catesby told him * that he had also 
asked advice, whether if the act could not be done without 
the destruction of some innocents, it might still be done, 


and was resolved that rather than the action should fail they 
must also suffer as the rest did.' By these assurances 
Rookwood's scruples were quieted ; " and he at once fell in 
with Catesb/s machinations. Thus were his better instincts 
overborne ; thus the voice of conscience smothered ; and a 
gallant gentleman degraded into a base assassin. Alas for 
him that he should have surrendered those Divine remon- 
strances of his soul to any so-called authority of priest or 
Jesuit or " bejesuited " friend. Alas that he was not " to his 
own self true," and obedient to those natural promptings 
which would have saved him from falsehood and shame. 
Alas that he ignobly placed himself at the bidding and in 
the hands of others, and submitted to believe that what 
was inhuman could be religious, that villainy could be holy, 
that impiety could be pious. 

Such was Shakespeare^s new neighbour in the autumn of 
1605. It would seem to have been just after his joining the 
plot that the well-known pilgrimage to St. Winifred's Well 
in Flintshire was made — made, we suppose, to procure a 
blessing for the nefarious work then in hand. An odd, 
strange God, the God of these people ; or did they confound 
God and devil ? " The ladies of the company went barefoot 
from Holt to the Well, where all remained a whole night." 
To think of the prayers these pilgrims were praying ! 

" Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum." 

It was probably after their return that Rookwood settled 
at Clopton. 

In a list of letters " come about this treason," made by 
Levinus Munck, one unluckily lost is thus described — it is 
the document we referred to above : " A paper reporting 
that at Clopton there hath been with Ambrose Rockwood 
\sic], John Grant, Mr. Winter [Thomas?], Mr. Ross, Mr. 


Townshend [of Broughton, Suffolk], Mr. Cee, Mr. Wright 
[John?], Sir Edward Bushall, Robert Catesbye." We know 
also that Rookwood's brother Thomas was there. So the 
house was often pretty full of traitors. A strange fierce 
company this in the bosom of the Welcombe Hills. 

Rookwood seems scarcely to have outgrown a young 
man's vanity in dress and such matters. There is mention 
of a sword of his with its hilt, or hilts, as they used to say, 
engraved with the passion of Christ ; and Sir William Wade, 
Lieutenant of the Tower, writes about " a fair scarf that 
Rucwood \sic\ made," a sort of badge, perhaps, as Sir 
William speaks of "figures or ciphers on it from which 
something might be gathered." "Rucwood made also a 
very fair hungarian horseman's coat lined all with velvet and 
other apparel exceeding costly, not fit for his degree." 
Thus he would be a notable object in the streets of Stratford, 
if ever he rode that way, and one that would exercise the 
minds of Dogberry and Verges if haply they espied him. 

But though the burghers might have their suspicions 
about their new neighbours, no one would credit them with 
any design so fiendish as they were presently discovered to 
have entertained and matured. Some ten or eleven days 
before Tuesday the 5 th, Rookwood disappeared from those 
parts. He had gone up to London to be in at the death. 
Then the news reached Stratford of some Papist outbreak 
near Warwick. There had been some sort of muster, horses 
had been stolen ; and the county was up. Suspicion at 
once fell on the tenant of Clopton House, especially as his 
brother Thomas had been seized attempting escape, as it 
seemed, and his associates Grant and Winter were known to 
have been actively concerned in the horse robbery at War- 
wick. The bailifif of Stratford at once proceeded to search 
the house at Clopton. Mrs. Rookwood was still there. He 


found a " cloak bag " of crosses and " massing reliques," but 
nothing that threw light on the disturbance, the rumours of 
which spread general alarm. Presently came the news of 
what had been intended at Westminster. A few days later 
Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Percy, and the wives of other conspirators 
were apprehended and sent up to London, Mrs. Rookwood 
amongst them, we suppose ; and so there was an end of the 
traitors* occupancy of Clopton House. 

Here, before we quit the scene, is a copy of two docu- 
ments that mention it preserved at the State Paper Office, in 
the Gunpowder Plot Book. 

" The examination of Thomas Rookwood, gent., of Clop- 
ton, in the county of Warwick, taken before Sir Fulk Grevil, 
day and year aforesaid [Nov. 8, 1605]: This examinate 
being demanded upon what occasion he passeth into these 
parts, saith he was going to Worcester to meet with one 
Ingram that had sold him a hawk. Being demanded why 
he fled from his way at Alcester, said because Townsend and 
Johnson that were of his company said the town was dis- 
quieted, which made them return out of the way to Bidford, 
when he was with the rest apprehended. 

" The examination of William Johnson, servant to Mr. 
Rookwood of Clopton in the county of Warwick, yeoman : 
This examinate being demanded for what cause he past this 
way saith he was going to Worcester to see a kinsman he had 
there. Being demanded how young Mr. Rookwood and Town- 
send came into this county, saith that they both had a purpose 
to deal with a hawk with a gentleman in Hereford. [* Young 
Mr. Rookwood,' said Worcester.] Being demanded why he 
fled when he came to Alcester after the troops were past, saith 
when he came and saw the town disturbe \sic\ he went with 
Mr. Rook [sic] and Townsend the contrary way out of the 
way to Bidford, when he was apprehended." 


There are "examinations" of other servants of Rookwood, 
appointed to go from Suifolk to meet him at Norbrook. 

Meanwhile the master was fleeing for his life. Early on 
Tuesday morning those of the Plotters who were in town 
were aware that their plot was discovered. " Richard 
Johnson " had been seized the preceding midnight, and, 
though he had disclosed nothing, it was clearly time to be 
gone. One Henry Tatnall met two gentlemen, afterwards 
thought to be conspirators, in Lincoln's Inn Fields that 
morning, and heard one say: " God's wounds ! we are 
wonderfully beset, and all is marred." They were soon 
tearing along the road for Dunchurch. Rookwood started 
last, but, better mounted, soon overtook the others — over- 
took Keyes about three miles beyond Highgate, then Catesby 
and John Wright beyond Brickhill ; then a little farther on 
Percy and Christopher Wright; and "they five rode to- 
gether ; and Percy and John Wright cast off their cloaks 
and threw them into a hedge to ride the more speedily." 
And so to Ashby St. Legers, Rookwood having covered the 
eighty miles in seven hours. Then on to Dunchurch, where 
it soon got out that the grand blow that was to be struck, 
whatever it was, had been thwarted, and all was lost. The 
assembly rapidly dissolved ; and the ringleaders, left almost 
alone, and it would seem wellnigh planless and desperate, 
dashed on through the night by or through Warwick — Grant 
and the others went through, and stole fresh horses, Rook- 
wood went round — to Norbrook, reached about daybreak, 
where they rested awhile, as they well had need ; then, on 
the Wednesday, through Alcester to Huddington, the 
Winters' house ; on the Thursday, at sunrise, to Whewell 
Grange, where they helped themselves to Lord Windsor's 
arms and armour; then, with yet thinner numbers, on to 
Holbeach, the house of Stephen Littleton, where, during the 


night, they made what preparations they could for the 
assault certain to be made on the morrow. It was here, 
on Friday the 8th, that some powder that was drying ex- 
ploded, and Rookwood and others were severely burnt. 
Sir Richard Walsh, Sheriff of Worcestershire, with the posse 
comitatus^ was soon at the gate. "When I came," says 
Th. Winter, who had been outside at the time of the ex- 
plosion — " I found Mr. Catesby reasonable well, Mr. Percy, 
both the Wrights, Mr. Rookwood, and Mr. Grant. I 
asked them what they resolved to do; they answered, 
* We mean here to die.' I said again I would take such 
part as they did. About eleven of the clock came the 
company to beset the house, and as I walked into the 
court I was shot into the shoulder, which lost me the 
use of my arm ; the next shot was the elder Wright shot 
dead; after him the younger Mr. Wright; and fourthly, 
Ambrose Rookwood [shot, not shot dead]. Then said 
Mr. Catesby to me, standing before the door they were 
to enter : * Stand by me, Tom, and we will die together.' 
*Sir,' quoth I, *I have lost the use of my right arm, 
and I fear that will cause me to be taken.' So, as we 
stood close together, Mr. Catesby, Mr. Percy, and myself, 
they two were shot, as far as I could guess, with one 
bullet; and then the company entered upon me, hurt 
me in the belly with a pike, and gave me the other 
wounds, until one came behind and caught hold of both 
my arms." 

One more scene we will look at, in which Mr. Rookwood, 
of Clopton, plays a signal part. Let us pass over his trial 
with his surviving fellows — the heads of Catesby and Percy 
had for some time been grinning "upon the side of the 
Parliament House," that of Tresham on London Bridge ; 
how he spoke of his attachment to Catesby ; how he begged 


for mercy, that he might be punished " corporaliter non mor- 
taliter; " and see the last act in his miserable tragedy. 

The old sentence in such cases was carried out in all its 
barbarity, at which, in the then state of public feeling, one 
can scarcely wonder. Indeed, according to a letter of the 
time, "there were some motions made in Parliament about a 
more sharp death for the gunpowder conspirators." Four — 
Sir Edward Digby, Robert Winter, Grant, and Bates — were 
executed at the west end of St. PauPs Churchyard ; the 
others — Th. Winter, Keyes, Fawkes, and he in whom we 
are here specially interested — in the Old Palace Yard at 
Westminster, opposite the Parliament House, now grimly 
decorated, as we have just mentioned, with the heads of 
Catesby and Percy. The procession to the Old Palace 
Yard " passed by a house in the Strand in which Rook- 
wood's wife lodged. She had placed herself at an open 
window, and Rookwood, raising himself as well as he could 
from the hurdle on which he was drawn, called upon his 
wife to * pray for him.' She replied in a clear, strong voice, 
* I will ! I will ! And do you offer yourself with a good 
heart to God and your Creator ! I yield you to Him with as 
full an assurance that you will be accepted of Him as when 
He gave you to me.' " So a contemporary MS. Evidently 
of a high and inflexible spirit was this lady — something of 
the antique Roman in her — who could look on such a sight 
and speak so firmly as she looked. The rough journey was 
soon completed. Then kneeling and often bowing their 
heads to the ground, the doomed men prayed, "but no 
voice heard, saving now and then * O Jesu, Jesu, save me 
and keep me,' &c., which words they repeated many times 
upon the ladder," and soon all was over. 

Such were the ends of Mr. Grant of Norbrook, and Mr. 
Rookwood, late of Clopton. 




As Gunpowder Plot was thus brought near, so to speak, to 
Shakespeare, those scenes at the west end of St. Paul's and 
in Old Palace Yard, so linked, as we have seen, with Strat- 
ford-on-Avon, it might be expected that we should find in 
his plays special allusions to an event that was in such a 
manner intruded upon his special notice. For our own part, 
we think that expectations of this kind are based upon 
ignorance of Shakespeare's way of working. But there are 
one or two passages — ^we ourselves shall lay no great stress 
upon them — which have been supposed to be suggested, 
and may have been suggested, by this same conspiracy. 

There is a passage in King Lear — we have ahready quoted 
a few words from it — which is possibly not impertinent. 
Certainly it should be remembered that it was in all proba- 
bility about the close of 1605, or in the course of 1606, that 
King Lear was written. Likely enough it was begun in the 
one year and finished in the other. " These late eclipses in 
the sun and moon," says Gloucester, who is ready to explain 
what goes wrong by any theory but that of personal culpa- 
bility, "portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of 
nature [/.^. natural philosophy] can reason it thus and thus, 
yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects : love 
cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide : in cities, mutinies : 
in countries, discord : in palaces, treason : and the bond 

cracked 'twixt son and father We have seen the 

best of our time ; machinations, hoUowness, treachery, and 
all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves." 
Surely this speech would have a very ciirious significance in 
1606 ; and it can scarcely be accidental that it was written 
in or about that year. 


The Porter in Macbeth amuses himself by fancying that 
he is, for the nonce, the janitor of hell. Knocks come 
pretty frequent at that door; and amongst other arrivals 
" here's an equivocator that could swear in both scales 
against either scale; who committed treason enough for 
God's sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O come 
in, equivocator." The exact date of the composition of 
Macbeth cannot be absolutely ascertained. Malone assigns 
it to 16 10, which is certainly too late; Dyceto 1606, which 
is probably not far out. That it is not later than 1606 could 
be shown pretty definitely, if our space permitted. One 
could not wish for a truer description of the Powder Plot 
than that it was a committing of treason for God's sake. 
That flattering unction the unhappy plotters laid constantly 
to their soul ; it was their misguided boast, that they were 
championing the true faith. 

And then the mention of equivocation. It is true that 
great scandals had been previously caused by the Jesuits 
and their practice of this art ; but Father Garnet had sur- 
passed his predecessors. To the average Englishman of 
the day who watched that worthy's proceedings, the distinc- 
tion between equivocating and what is vulgarly termed 
lying seemed impossible to recognize. To subtly discrimi- 
nate between propositions, mental, verbal, written, mixed, 
was quite beyond his feeble capacity. And in considering 
the question of Garnet's complicity in the Plot, we must 
plainly assert we do not see how, all things considered, any 
weight whatever can be attached to his own denial of it. 
We know that on one occasion — we refer to his denying 
that he had had an interview with Hall — he saw his way to 
absolutely deny a fact, and what he knew to be a fact ; and 
to his contemporaries his conscience seemed to be remark- 
ably elastic in such respects. Equivocation sank into the 


worst repute; and that equivocators could by no means 
" equivocate to heaven," but verily would succeed in equi- 
vocating to a very different region, was certainly the general 
impression and feeling. On the whole, the passage looks 
very like an allusion to the Plot, and especially to Garnet, 
as Malone long ago pointed out. It is just what would be 
commonly said of him wherever his participation in the 
Plot was believed ; and it was generally believed, nor has it 
yet been successfully contradicted. He " committed trea- 
son enough for God's sake, yet could not equivocate to 

Probably written about the same time, about 1606, Timon 
of Athens contains a passage that the Plot illustrates, if it 
did not suggest. It is held, and not without reason, that 
this play is not all by Shakespeare; and it may be that 
the passage we are about to quote may not be from his 
hand, though in our opinion it is fully in his manner. Any- 
how it appears in a play of which he was joint author, and 
so we may believe received his assent and approval, if it was 
not actually penned by him. Sempronius, applied to by 
Timon for help, has just cloaked the baseness of his refusal 
with the pretence that he is affronted at not having been 
applied to earlier. "Who bates mine honour," says the 
mean creature, making a show of dignity, " shall not know 
my coin ; " and so exit " Excellent ! " cries Timon's ser- 
vant, when his back is turned ; " your lordship's a goodly 
villain. The devil knew not what he did when he made 
man politic ; he crossed himself by 't ; and I cannot think 
but in the end the villanies of man will set him clear. How 
fairly this lord strikes to appear foul ! takes virtuous copies 
to be wicked, like those that under hot ardent zeal would set 
whole realms on fire J^ 

Possibly enough other relevant quotations might be made. 


Knight quotes in this connexion certain well-known lines in 
the Winter's Tale, a play of later date, viz. I. ii. 357-61, but 
the reference there seems rather to the recent assassination 
of Henry IV. of France. 

But what is more important than' any such references, 
real or fancied, is to consider how Shakespeare illustrates 
the conspiracy in a more general way ; to notice how it not 
unnaturally belongs to such an age as he depicts for us; 
how the men who were conspicuous in it are of the same 
breed with those whom his supreme art has made so 
strangely familiar to all posterity. 

Or, instead of using Shakespeare to illustrate it, we may, 
with not less convenience and profit, use this conspiracy to 
illustrate Shakespeare. There is, indeed, an aspect of it 
which is merely distressing and horrid. When we view it 
as a masterpiece of bigotry — ^bigotry at its fiercest and 
worst — ^it simply inspires disgust and loathing; we must 
bow our heads with shame that human beings can fall 
so low, that the name of religion can be so foully misused, 
so grossly profaned. But there are other features that in- 
spire rather pity and admiration, and remind us that these 
Plotters, too, were the children of the great Elizabethan 

It was an age of passion; of passionate hates and 
passionate loves ; of eager devotions, of fervid abhorrences ; 
of infinite tenderness, implacable fierceness ; of the keenest 
readiness to do or die — to do and die. 

These violent, excitable, ardent, faithful, wild, impetuous 
spirits, are they not, then, the children of their age? Writh- 
ing with a fierce impatience beneath the intolerant tyranny 
which would fain have torn from them the old religious 
creed of their race — a creed deeply rooted in their nature 
and with tendrils intertwined with their heart-strings— stung 


to a burning resentment by the wrongs daily inflicted on 
them and theirs; mad for revenge; reckless mutineers 
against the order that oppressed them ; defiant of law and 
defiant of fate ; true unto death to each other and their 
cause; still intrepid and fixed in the midst of desperate 
fortunes ; in the very jaws of ruin unconquered and un- 
conquerable — it is impossible to observe these men without 
seeing that they are of the same flesh and blood with those 
heroes that won for the reign of Queen Elizabeth its honour 
and glory ; that, however deluded and damnable were the 
uses to which they unworthily lent themselves, they were 
not unendowed with the splendid energy and valour and 
devotion which on other fields achieved triumphs that to 
this day we Englishmen cannot remember without a thrill 
of joy and pride. 

What especially characterised the Shakespearian age, 
both for good and evil, was the comparatively free play of 
life — the unfettered movement of nature. It was this 
characteristic that made it so favourable to art. As in the 
public exercises of their gymnasia and palaestrae the Greek 
sculptor studied the physical form, and attained that inti- 
mate familiarity with it that enabled him to reproduce it 
with a faithfulness and power never equalled; in the same 
manner in our Elizabethan age our dramatists studied mind 
and character, and were enabled to represent the humours 
and tlie passions of their time with an insight and force that 
place their works amongst the most precious records of 
humanity. Shakespeare saw ** the very pulse of the 
machine." The springs of action were disclosed to him. 
He looked into the inmost heart of things. " Oflf, off", you 
landings ; " and nature stood revealed before him, disguise- 
less, not " sophisticated." 

We say that the study of Gunpowder Plot, stamped as its 


chief agents are with certain characteristics of their age, may 
be of no mean service in helping us to appreciate Shake- 
speare. Into what close neighbourhood with it he was 
brought it has been the special purpose of this paper to 




(From the Quarterly Review, January, 1873.) 

IT is now about a century since the study of Chaucer 
began to revive. Between the time of Verstegan and 
Tyrwhitt — the Restitution of Decayed Intelligence was pub- 
lished in 1605, Tyrwhitt's memorable work in 1775 — he had, 
by slow degrees, fallen nearly altogether out of the general 
knowledge of men. He, whom Spenser called " the well of 
English undefiled," was vulgarly accused of having poisoned 
and corrupted the springs of his native tongue. He whom 
that same Spenser — the sweetest melodist of our literature 
— looked up to as his verse-master and exemplar, was stig- 
matized as a very metrical cripple and idiot. And what 
little acquaintance there was maintained with him was due 
to versions of certain of his poems made by the facile pens 
of Dryden and of Pope; so completely had he fallen on 
what were for him "evil days" and "evil tongues." To 
Tyrwhitt belongs the honour of first reinstating the old poet 
on the pedestal from which he had been so rudely deposed 
so long a time. Proper consideration being made for the 
age in which that admirable scholar lived, his edition of 
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales must be pronounced a wonder 
of erudition and of faithful labour. Certainly the figure of 
Chaucer which he presented to the eyes of his time is not a 
quite genuine thing ; there are traces on it of the whitewash 
or the paint with which the eighteenth century thought it 
well to " touch up " ancestral images ; but yet it is not easy 


to overstate the importance or the merit of the service he 
performed. From the publication of his volumes may be 
dated the renewal of the critical and the appreciative study 
of the greatest literary productions of the English Middle 
Ages. The impulse they gave has been perpetually 
strengthened and multiplied by various tendencies and 
movements, both of a general and a particular character. 
At the present time a Chaucer Society has been formed, and 
under the zealous leadership of Mr. Furnivall, its founder 
and organizer and almost sole worker, is doing excellent 
service ^ in bringing within common reach the original texts 
of the great poet. Of various other ways in which in the 
course of this century, and especially in our own generation, 
some popular, as well as scholarly, familiarity with one of our 
greatest minds has been encouraged and promoted, it is not 
our purpose now to speak. Let it suffice to say that Chaucer 
has never been known since his own day more intelligently 
and more adniiringly than he seems likely to be during the 
last quarter of this nineteenth century. 

It is certain that this Chaucerian revival is not the result 
of any mere antiquarianism, but of a genuine poetic vitality. 
There can be no better testimony to the true greatness of 
the old poet than that half a thousand years after the age. in 
which he wrote he is held in higher estimation than ever ; 
that, whatever intermissions of his popularity there may have 
/been in times that cared nothing for, as they knew little of, 
the great Romantic School to which he belonged, and that 
were wholly incapable of understanding the very language in 
which he expressed and transcribed his genius, he this day 
speaks with increasing force and power. Through all the 
obsoletenesses of his language, and all the lets and impedi- 

^ So feur as its funds, which, we are sorry to say, are by no means 
flourishing, allow it. 


ments to a full enjoyment of his melody caused by our igno- 
rance of fourteenth-century English, through all the conven- 
tional and social differences which separate his time from 
ours, we yet recognize a profoundly human soul, with a 
marvellous power of speech. We are discovering that he is 
not only a great poet, but one of our greatest. It is not too 
much to say that the better acquaintance with Chaucer's 
transcendent merits is gradually establishing the conviction 
that not one among all poets deserves so well as he the 
second place. 

Chaucer and Shakespeare have much in common. How- 
ever diverse the form of their greatest works, yet in spirit 
there is a remarkable likeness and sympathy. Their geniuses 
differ rather in degree than in kind. Chaucer is in many 
respects a lesser Shakespeare. 

Chaucer lived generations before the dramatic form was 
ripe for the use of genius. In his day it had scarcely yet 
advanced beyond the rude dialogue and grotesque portrai- 
ture of the Miracle -play. ^ In fact at that time that rare 
growth, which two centuries later was to put forth such ex- 
quisite imperishable flowers, had hardly yet emerged from its 

* Absalon of the Milleres Tale : — 

** Sometime to shew his lightnesse and maistrie 
He plaieth Herode on a skaffold hie. " 

In the Elizabethan age thiis part of Herod had become a proverb of 
rant ; so that Hamlet uses the name as the very superlative of noise 
(act iii., scene 2). The Miller himself cries out "in Pilate's voice." 
The wife of Bath, with Clerk Jankin and her gossip dame Ales, goes to 
Playes of Miracles. ' Shakespeare laughs at the rough amateurs of the 
old stage in the by-play of the Midsummer Nighfs Dream. In Chau> 
cer*s age perhaps Bottom would have been regarded as a very Roscius, 
and that interlude of Pyramus and Thisbe might have drawn genuine 
tears down medieval cheeks. 


native earth ; it was yet only embryonic. Chaucer stands 
in relation to the supreme Dramatic Age in a correspondent 
position to that held by Scott. Chaucer lived in the morn- 
ing twilight of it, Scott in the evening. There can be little 
doubt that both would have added to its lustre — that 
England would have boasted one more, and Scotland at 
least one great dramatist — had they been born later and 
earlier respectively ; but Chaucer could not even descry it in 
the future, so far off was it, and it was Scott's fortune to look 
back upon it in the swiftly receding distance. 

But although the form which was to receive such splendid 
usage from Shakespeare, and to prove the very amplest and 
fittest and noblest body for the highest dramatic spirit, was 
not yet ready for wear in the culminating epoch of the Middle 
Ages, yet that dramatic energy which blazed out so brilliantly 
at a later period was already at work, and insisting on some 
representation. It worked with vehemence in Chaucer. He 
is pre-eminently the dramatic genius, not only of mediaeval 
England, but of mediaeval Europe. The great Italians of 
the bright dawn of modem literature were not of the drama- 
tic order. Much as Chaucer undoubtedly owed to them, 
they furnished him with no sort of dramatic precedent or 
example. He is the first in time of modem dramatical 
spirits ; and one must travel far back into the ancient times 
before one meets with anybody worthy of comparison with 
him. Certainly if, as has been remarked, it was in Dante 
that Nature showed that the higher imagination had not 
perished altogether with Virgil, it was in Chaucer that she 
showed that dramatic power had not breathed its last with 
Plautus and Terence. 

In respect of means of expression Chaucer was placed in 
a much more unprovided and destitute position than was 
Shakespeare. We have already seen that neither Tragedy 


nor Comedy,^ in the strict sense of those terms, was known 
in his day; whereas nothing can be falser than to make; 
Shakespeare say, as Dryden makes him say, — 

" I found not, but created first the stage. 


The stage was already not only in existence, but occupied 
by wits of no contemptible rank, when Shakespeare appeared 
in Town. Shakespeare had in Marlowe a dramatic master. 
The pupil presently outshone the master; but of the in- 
fluence of that master there can be no doubt, though perhaps 
it has not been, and is not, as adequately recognized and 
acknowledged as it should be by Shakespearian critics and 
commentators. And Marlowe did not stand alone ; he was 
one, certainly the most eminent one, of a group, whose 
starry lights it is not easy to see in the intense brightness 
flowing from the great sun that uprose amongst them ; but 
there they were and are, of no faint brilliancy, so long as 
they had the firmament to themselves, unsuffused by an 
overpowering glory. But for Chaucer there were no such 
predecessors at home or abroad. Naturally enough, it 
would seem that it was not till comparatively late in life that 
he discovered the best vehicle of self-expression. For many 
years his genius struggled for a fitting language. Like all 

^ See the prologue to Monkes Tale : — 

" Tragedis is to seyn a certyn storie, 
As olde bookes maken us memorie 
Of hem that stood in greet prosperite 
And is y-fallen out of heigh degre 
Into miserie, and endith wrecchedly; 
And thay ben versifyed comunly 
Of six feet, which men clepe exametron. 
In prose been eek endited many oon ; 
In metre eek, in mony a sondry wise." 

As to the term Comedy, observe, for instance, Dante's use of it. 


poets, he began by imitating the models he found current. 
He dreamed dreams, and saw visions in the conventional 
mode. He echoed whatever sweet sounds reached his quick 
Sensitive ears from any quarter. He translated, with a 
quite touching humble-mindedness, received masterpieces 
of French and of Italian literature. Through all these 
labours his originality was gradually developing. For all his 
eflforts his genius would not keep to the beaten path, but 
would perpetually strike out some new way for itself and 
forget the appointed route. At last he started altogether 
alone, looking no longer for old footprints to retrace or any 
established guide-posts. He discovered a fair wide country 
that had lain untrodden for ages, over whose tracks the grass 
or the moss had grown, and here he advanced as in some 
fresh new world : — 

" Pamassi deserta per ardua dulcis 
Raptat amor ; juvat ire jugis, qua nulla priorum 
Castaliam molli devertitur orbita clivo." 

Chaucer's great work is but a noble fragment. It seems 
certain that many troubles beset the declining years of his 
life. We think it may be doubted whether he was endowed 
with that excellent commercial prudence which so eminently 
distinguished Shakespeare. It was certainly a happy cir- 
cumstance for Shakespeare — a circumstance due in a great 
measure, it may be believed, to his own sound judgment — 
that he never became in any way a satellite or retainer of the 
Court, but could escape from the unwholesome atmosphere 
of Whitehall to his home at Stratford. Chaucer was not 
so fortunate. He was attached to one of the most ex- 
travagant and frivolous circles that ever gathered round a 
monarch of a like description. However noble-natured, he 
could scarcely live in such company without some contami- 


nation. Assuredly his works have stains upon them con- 
tracted in that evil air, much as Beaumont and Fletcher are I 
flushed and spotted by the contagions of James I.'s time. 
And with that Court connection it is impossible not to 
associate the extreme pecuniary difficulties, of which there 
are only too manifest signs at a certain period of Chaucer's 
life. Probably it was these piteous, but seemingly not in- 
evitable or reproachless, distresses that impeded the com- 
pletion of the Canterbury Tales, The original design, 
indeed, is in itself too vast for realization. Chaucer com- 
mits the same error in this respect as Spenser does. But it 
may well be believed that had Chaucer matured his work, 
he would either have retrenched his plan, or by some device 
have brought its execution within tolerable dimensions. 
The part that happily was written has evidently not received 
the finishing touch. The Prologue itself, perhaps, was never 
finally revised ; as it stands it contains incompatible state- 
ments as to the number of the pilgrims; in the case of 
the " Persoun " it deviates from the programme in not 
telling us — 

" in what array that "he " was inne." 

Had the work been fully completed, especially had more of 
those Inter-prologues been written, in which Chaucer's dra- 
matic power more particularly displays itself, and the figures 
portrayed in the initial Prologue are with admirable skill 
shown in self-consistent action, being permitted to speak for 
themselves and develop their own natures, there can be little 
doubt that the claims upon our admiration would have been 
greatly multiplied. 

Chaucer then stands at a considerable disadvantage as 
compared with Shakespeare, both in respect of the dramatic 
appliances of his time and in respect of the works represen- 
tative of his genius. Chaucer, as we have seen, found ready 


to hand no literary form such as should worthily interpret his 
mind, and was many years searching before he found one, 
and, when at last he found it, was somewhat obstructed in 
the free use of it by troubles and cares that divorced him 
from his proper task. Moreover the English of his day, 
though already a copious and versatile tongue, was some- 
thing rude and inflexible in comparison with the Elizabethan 
language. In several passages it is clear that he is conscious 
of certain difliculties attendant on the use of such an instru- 
ment A true instinct led him to choose English for his 
service rather than French, which his less far-seeing contem- 
porary Gower chose at least for his early piece, the Speculum 
Meditantis^ and for his Balades ; but his choice exposed him 
to various perplexities inseparable from the transitional con- 
dition of the object of it. 

Fragmentary as his great work is, it is enough to show 
how consummate was his genius. Not more surely did that 
famous footprint on the sands tell the lonely islander of 
Defoe's story of a human presence than Chaucer's remains 
assure us that a great poet was amongst us when such pieces 
were produced. 

We have said that his genius exhibits a remarkable affinity 
to that of Shakespeare — a closer affinity, we think, than that 
of any other English poet. To Chaucer belongs in a high 
measure what marks Shakespeare supremely — a certain in- 
definable grace and brightness of style, an incomparable 
archness and vivacity, an incessant elasticity and freshness, 
an indescribable ease, a never-faltering variety, an incapa- 
bility of dulness. These men "toil not, neither do they 
spin," at least so far as one can see. The mountain comes 
to them ; they do not go to it. They wear their art " lightly, 
like a flower." They never pant or stoop with efforts and 
strainings. They are kings that never quit their thrones. 


with a world at their feet. The sceptre is natural in their 
hands ; the purple seems their proper wearing. They 
never cease to scatter their jewels for fear of poverty ; the 
treasury is always overflowing, because all things bring them 

For skill in characterization who can be placed between 
Chaucer and Shakespeare ? Is there any work, except the 
" theatre " of Shakespeare, that attempts, with a success in 
any way comparable, the astonishing task which Chaucer 
sets himself? He attempts to portray the entire society of 
his age from the crown of its head to the sole of its foot — 
from the knight, the topmost figure of mediaeval life, down 
to the peasant and the cook ; and the result is a gallery 
of life-like portraits, which has no parallel anywhere, with 
one exception, for variety, truthfulness, humanity. These 
are no roughly drawn, rudely featured outlines, without ex- 
pression and definiteness, only recognizable by some imper- 
tinent symbol, or when we see the name attached, like some 
collection of ancient kings, or of " ancestors " where there 
prevails one uniform vacuity of countenance, and, but for 
the costume or the legend, one cannot distinguish the First 
of his house from the Last. They are all drawn with an 
amazing discrimination and delicacy.^ There is nothing of 
caricature, but yet the individuality is perfect. That the 
same pencil should have given us the Prioress and the Wife 

* Chaucer's sound taste shrunk altogether from every form of cari- 
cature. His humour, boisterous enough sometimes, at others wonder- 
fully fine and delicate, is always truthful. His Tale of Sir Thopas is 
one of the best parodies in our language. He tells it with the utmost 
possible gravity, looking as serious as Defoe or Swift in their " driest '* 
moments ; and, only if you watch well, can you detect a certain mis- 
chievous twinkle in his eyes. Some worthy people, indeed, have not 
detected this twinkle, and have soberly registered Sir Topas amongst 
the legitimate heroes of chivalrous romance. 


of Bath^ the Knight and the Sompnour, the Parson and the 
Pardoner ! These various beings, for beings they are, are as 
distinct to us now as when he who has made them immortal 
saw them move out through the gates of the " Tabard," a 
motley procession, nearly five hundred years since. So far 
as merely external matters go, the Society of the Middle 
Ages is perpetuated with a minuteness not approached else- 
where. We know exactly how it looked to the bodily eye. 
Chaucer addresses himself deliberately to this exhaustive 
portrayal : — 

**But natheles whiles I have tyme and space, 

Or that I ferthere in this tale pace, 

Me thinketh it accordant to resoun 

To telle yow alle the condicioun 

Ofeche ofhem^ so as it semed me, 

And which they weren and of what degi'Cy 

And eek in whcU array that they were inne.^* 

Surely a quite unique programme ; and it is carried out with 
profound conscientiousness and power. 

We ask, who among our poets, except Shakespeare, shall 
be placed above Chaucer in this domain of art ? In our 
opinion there is not one of the Elizabethans that deserves 
that honour. There is an endless variety of creative power, 
and the offspring is according. Spenser is, in a way, a great 
creator; he fills the air around him with a population bom 
of his own teeming fancy ; but these children of Spenser are 
not human children, but rather exquisite phantoms, with 
bodies, if they may be called embodied, of no earthly tissue, 
mere delicate configurations of cloud and mist. They are 
very ghosts, each one of whom pales and vanishes if a cock 
crows, or any mortal sound strikes their fine ears : — 

" Ter frustra comprensa manus efFugit imago, 
Par levibus ventis volucrique simillima somno." 



And yet, as man is made in the image of God, so certainly 
the creatures of the poet should be made in the image of 
man. There is no higher model to be aimed at. Man is the 
culminating form of the world as we know it, or can know it. 
Spenser's creatures may thrive in their native land of 
" Faerie ; " but their " lungs cannot receive our air." Some- 
thing more existent and real are the lovely presences 
that owe their being to Beaumont and Fletcher — Aspatia, 
Bellario, Ordella. Assuredly Ordella is rich in sons and 
daughters such as she spoke of in that high dialogue with 

Thierry : — 

** He that reads me 
When I am ashes, is my son in wishes ; 
And those chaste dames that keep my memory, 
Singing my yearly requiems, are my daughters." 

But scarcely are she and that passing fair sisterhood of which 
she is one formed of human clay. They stand out from the 
crowd with whom they mix as shapes of a celestial texture. 
One can only think of them as white-robed sanctities. In 
fact, they are the natural counterparts of those grosser 
beings that are only too common in the plays of the authors 
who drew them. A painter of devils must now and then 
paint angels by way of relief. Perhaps it is not too much to 
say that all the characters of these writers are either above 
or below human nature. They cannot show us humanity 
without some sort of exaggeration. Ben Jonson has hardly 
succeeded better in this respect. One grave defect in all 
his creations is what may be called their monotony. There 
is no flexibility of disposition, no free play of nature. More- 
over, his works exhibit too plainly the travail and effort with 
which they were composed. One seems to be taken into 
his workshop, and see him toiling and groaning, and, in the 
very act of elaboration, shaping now this limb and now that. 


The greatest master of characterization of that age next to 
Shakespeare is certainly Massinger. Sir Giles Overreach 
and Luke are both real men. Luke is a true piece of 
nature, not all black-souled, nor all white, but of a mixed 
complexion. But the area which Massinger could make his 
own was of limited dimensions. When he stepped across its 
limits, his strength failed him, and he was even as other men. 
To pass on in this necessarily rapid survey to a later 
period Goldsmith alone amongst our later poets has left 
us a portrait that deserves to compare with one by Chaucer. 
It is that ever-charming portrait of the Village Preacher, a 
not unworthy pendant of the "Parson," by which, indeed, 
it was indirectly inspired. He has given us duplicates of 
it in prose in the persons of the Vicar of Wakefield and 
of the Man in Black. There is a tradition that he who 
sat to Chaucer for the Parson was no other than Wicliflfe. 
It seems fairly certain that Goldsmith's original was his 
own father. That was the one figure he could draw with 
the utmost skill, the deepest feeling. Since Goldsmith 
there has arisen in our literature no consummate portrait- 
painter in verse, unless an exception be made in favour of 
Browning. Scott's creative power did not come to him when 
he wrote in metre. Shelley's creations are of the Spenserian 
type — fair visions, refined immaterialities, 

" Shapes that haunt Thought's wildernesses." 

Has Tennyson's Arthur human veins and pulses ? He lived 
and lives somewhat, perhaps, in that earliest of the Arthurian 
books — the Morte (T Arthur — the supposed relic of an Epic ; 
but in the later treatments he has become more and more 
impalpable and airy, and only visible to us as to Guinevere 

" more and more 
The moony vapour rolling round the king, 


Who seem'd the phantom of a giant in it, 
Enwound him fold by fold, and made him gray 
And grayer, till himself became as mist 
Before her, moving ghostlike to his doom." 

The Arthur of the Idylls^ looking at his younger self in the 
earliest Tennysonian poem that celebrates him, might say of 
himself what Marlborough in his old age is reported to have 
said when he looked at a picture of his youth : " I was once 
a Man 1 " He has become a thinly clothed Idea. 

Perhaps Mr. Browning possesses the highest dramatic 
power amongst the poets of this century, but his power is 
rather analytical than constructive. Mr. William Morris, 
the professed disciple of Chaucer, affords a striking contrast 
to his master in this regard. The Life and Death of Jason 
and The Earthly Paradise have many charms and excel- 
lencies ; but amongst these the lifelike delineation of cha- 
racter is not to be numbered. 

We must turn to our prose writers if we would find out of 
Shakespeare any parallel to the excellence and, at the same 
time, to the variety of Chaucer's personae ; for it is in prose, 
since the Elizabethan age, that the highest creative power 
of our literature has expressed itself. The Massingers and 
Fletchers and Fords have turned novelists in the latter 
days. Addison and Steele, those genial literary partners, the 
Beaumont and Fletcher of the prose period in this respect 
of collaboration, have sketched a group which it is not unin- 
teresting to compare with that of the Prologue. As in the 
time of Richard II. men went on pilgrimage in companies, so 
in Queen Anne's reign they formed clubs. The Spectator ^ it will 
be remembered, in his opening papers describes the members 
of the Club by a committee of which his delightful serial was 
to be conducted. The account of himself comes first ; he is 
as reserved as the poet of the Canterbury Tales is social, only 


like him in the keenness of his powers of observation. Then 
comes the knight Sir Roger, who is to be the real hero of 
the work. Sir Roger is far beyond praise. On him Addi- 
soii lavishes all the wealth of his exquisite humour. In 
Chaucer's day the knight was too awful a personage to be 
trifled with. There are only three characters in the Pro- 
logue in whose painting the overflowing fun of the artist is 
checked and repressed, and the gentle mockery dies out of 
his eyes for a while, and he is all gravity and reverence ; and 
of these the Knight is one. But, in fact, knight does not 
answer to knight. Sir Roger rather corresponds to the 
Franklin of Chaucer ; and perhaps the nearest equivalent to 
Chaucer's Knight in the Spectator's list is Captain Sentry, but 
there is no quite correspondent figure, so utterly had society 
shifted and changed since the Middle Ages. Then comes the 
Templar who, if he pairs off with any one of the Chaucerian 
society, must go with the Clerk of Oxenford ; but the one 
is a real student, the other something of a mere dilettanti. 
Next in order is Sir Andrew Freeport, the merchant, a figure 
that can never be absent from any English circle that is meant 
to be at all representative, of much greater note in the early 
eighteenth century than in the late fourteenth, and accord- 
ingly treated with deeper respect by Steele than by Chaucer, 
though there is a curious similarity of traits, showing that 
both writers drew from nature. Then there is Captain 
Sentry, who, in some sort, as we have said, is to be matched 
with the Knight of the Pilgrimage. Sixth is Will Honey- 
comb, a man about town, a young, frivolous, and unprofit- 
able being, for whom, to the honour of the older age be it 
said, there is no responsive type whatever. Lastly is recorded 
" a clergyman, a very philosophic man, of general learning, 
great sanctity of life, and the most exact good breeding ; " 
with whom, of course, " a pore Persoun of a toun " is to be 


compared or contrasted. Observe the order of the cha- 
racteristics of the " Augustan " divine : he is learned, pure- 
lived, and well-bred 1 Is there not something piteously 
significant in this bathos ? He had a high sense of holiness, 
and of etiquette ! Chaucer never commits such a frightful 
anticlimax. On the whole, it is clear, if we compare these 
groups, that the moral superiority belongs to the older one. 
It is true that there are " highly objectionable" persons in the 
Chaucerian catalogue, whose souls, to adopt the Pythagorean 
faith, do not re-appear in fresh bodies in the later epoch as 
represented by Addison and Steele ; but this is because that 
epoch is not represented exhaustively. The Pardoner and 
the Sompnour and the Friar were certainly " going to and 
fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it " as busily 
under the last of the Stuarts as under the last of the Plan- 
tagenets, though they had altered their titles and employ- 
ments ; but it did not fall within the plan of the great 
essayists to depict them. Looking away from this matter of 
moral superiority, which it may be truly said is due rather to 
the difference between the ages than to that between the 
writers, to the artistic merits of the two performances, it is 
surely impossible to deny the palm to Chaucer as to the 
deeper and wider genius. Addison conceived and incorpo- 
rated one immortal figure. His sympathies scarcely ex- 
tended at all beneath a certain social level. What are called 
" the lower classes " hardly found a literary patron and intro- 
ducer till Goldsmith arose. It was not unnecessarily that 
Gray forbade " Grandeur " to 

"hear with a disdainful smile 
The short and simple annals of the poor." 

The noble declaration that Terence puts in the mouth of 
Chremes — 

** Homo sum ; humani nihil a me alienum puto,'* 


though often quoted by the wits of the last century, was seldom, 
if ever, sincerely adopted and made the principle of action. 
One infinite glory of Chaucer is the capacity of his moral, 
no less than of his intellectual nature ; he is not the painter 
of a class — his courtesy and interest know no such mean cir- 
cumscription ; he makes friends with all his fellow pilgrims, 
not only with those of his own rank and distinction as the 
Knight and the Squire and the Prioress and the Man of 
Law, but 

** Schortly when the sonne was to reste 
So hadde I spoken with her everychon^ 
That I was of here felawschipe anon. 
And made forward eriy to aryse 
To take oure waye ther as I yow devyse." 

Defoe has created a man, the brave, resolute, self-con- 
tained, invincible, but withal somewhat untender and dry- 
natured Robinson Crusoe. About the middle of the last 
century creative genius abounded. Richardson, Fielding, 
Smollett, Sterne, and Goldsmith, all in various degrees 
added to that spirit-born population that will be known and 
familiar through all times. Generations will come and go, 
but Squire Western, and Parson Adams, and Uncle Toby, 
and Dr. Primrose will live on insensible of the weight of 
years, still hale and vigorous, still moving all who approach 
to laughter or to tears. Chaucer represents Nature regarding 
with pride her handiwork, in the shape of the daughter of 
*' the knight " Virginius, and speaking in this wise : — 

"Lo, I, Nature 
Thus can I forme and peynte a creature 
Whan that me lust ; who can me counterfete ? 
Pigmalion ? Nought, though he alwey forge and bete 
Or grave or peynte ; for I dar wel sayn 
Apellis, Zeuxis, schulde wirche in va)m 
Other to grave, or pajmte, or forge or bete, 
If they presumed me to counterfete. 

F<sr Hie rfiaf oi r&e FonnBr pfemopal 

Ta fbone and p^nte (odidEr cicatfiMC 

Rigfir as me InsL. AI tbing is ih. ni^ cme 

Under die xmxBie xisas^ msEr wane and waxei 

And fiar my iPQJce no dnng vol laae; 

Xt ksd and I ben fizILr an accord ; 

I madeliir to die »«w*a-fir||-i of mj Lofd; 

So do I alLe myn odtio^ creatores 

Wliat coloar dot they been, arw&nt figncs.' 

It is to die reverence f<K Xzdire so findj expressed in this 
passage that the success of the great Mastos is doe. 

When that galaxy ^ided away just a centmy since, Nattire 
found no ^dthfol and canning copyists for the space of a gene- 
ration, for it was not Nature that Miss Barney and Mrs. 
Ratclifie copied, but some &dse goddess whom they mistook 
for her. And hence their men and women, however much 
admired on their first appearance, socm sank into obscurity 
when Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott began to write. 
Then once more the mirror was held up to Nature, and 
the reflected images caught and eternized with supremest 
skill. Miss Austen is without a rival in the field she occu- 
pied. In any of the highest creative ages Scott would 
assuredly have taken an eminent place. But in compre- 
hensiveness of power can either of these immortal artists be 
ranked above Chaucer ? What we wish to emphasize is not 
only the depth but the breadth of Chaucer's genius. It was 
a mere fragment of human life that Miss Austen saw with a 
clearness and an intelligence and a reproductive power that 
defy panegyric. 

Scott's canvas is more thickly and variously crowded ; it 
is inexpressibly admirable both in quantity and in quality ; 
but in our opinion it does not betoken a genius either so 
wide-embracing or so deep-piercing as that of the old poet 


whom the author of Waverley himself studied with such 
enthusiastic delight. 

Passing on, now, to the second generation of novelists who 
have graced and glorified this current century. Thackeray's 
creative power was scarcely co-extensive with his humour, or 
his sympathy. He mused and moralized more frequently 
than he created. Like Hamlet, he was afflicted with a ten- 
dency to think and reflect rather than to act. Dickens cer- 
tainly possessed more abundant creative power. Beings 
sprang up at. his call, as it was said the legions would arise 
at the stamp of Pompey. And amongst these there are un- 
doubtedly genuine specimens of the human race, who will 
live for ever ; but he has left behind him scarcely anything 
that is not marred by caricature. The mirror held up by 
him to Nature was certainly not provided with a properly 
even surface, and consequently all the images he saw in it, 
and drew from it, were apt to be distorted and out of pro- 
portion. He gives us at times a very masque of hobgoblins ; 
one seems to have dropt into the country of 

" The Anthropophagi and men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders ; " 

there is nothing normal or calm, but incessant eccentricity 
and theatricalism. In this respect Dickens strikingly con- 
trasts, to his disadvantage, with Chaucer, whose fidelity to 
nature is far too sincere to permit him to take such liberties 
with her fair works, or to select her monstrosities as her 
types. Both writers are pre-eminently realistic ; no English- 
men, perhaps, exhibit more clearly that intense realism which 
it may be lies at the basis of the Low German mind, and 
which produced that school of painting amongst our own 
nearest kinsmen on the Continent which may compete with 
photography in the minute accuracy and exactness of its 
representations. Chaucer and Dickens are as precise in 


... .9 w J( 

gear •yfrm'ariTig a tf^'rinst -l lie tad 'nMBH i ns as are Hooge 

^e cinrmffcr 'jxAl of die Miller and 
^ssr of Mr. Pickwick and Sam 
n^rabe «»??*^^ tbe modem is not 
v^uch Chaiicer never is. 
becveen these two great 
vas of the highest cul- 
ture to be reachsd is hSs 2^ aad aH hb works are fragrant 
wiih eiidence of i:. Dickesis ooakl hawe drawn certain of 
the Pilgrims wirfa rfry-TTarTttr saccess : but he coold not have 
drawn the Knight or the Ptioiess. Bat the difference is 
not oniT of cakiire : it is also of soiL 

Of what TD2J be tenned the third, the now reigning gene- 
ration of novelists appertainii^ to diis centoiy, certainly the 
only one that in point of characterizatk>n merits naming 
with Chancer is that most accomplished and profound 
writer known as Geoige Eliot ; of whom, as it is almost im- 
possible to speak with undazzled judgment whilst we are 
actually in the midst of his — or may we say her ? — ^fascina- 
tions, we will not attempt any comparative review. 

In our opinion, then, to Chaucer may worthily be assigned 
the place next, we do not say close, to Shakespeare as a 
maker of men. By no other writer, with that illustrious ex- 
ception, have so many real fellow-creatures been given to 
us ; by no other has been exhibited such wellnigh universal 
knowledge and comprehension of mankind. 

With regard to Chaucer, as to Shakespeare, it has been 
disputed whether he is greater as a humorous or a pathetic 
writer. It is a common observation that the gifts of humour 
and pathos are generally found together, a statement that, 
perhaps, requires some little qualification. Ben Jonson, 
Addison, and Fielding, for instance, are humorous without 
being pathetic ; on the other hand, Richardson is pathetic 


and not humorous. Sterne's pathos is a mere trick. Let 
those who please weep by the death-bedside of Le Fevre ; 
for our part we will not be so cheated of our tears. Sterne, 
in that famous scene, is nothing better than an exquisite 
" mute " — a masterpiece of mercenary mourning. One may 
see him, if one looks intently, arranging his pocket-handker- 
chief in effective folds, with one eye tear-streaming, while the 
other watches that all the proper manoeuvres of woe are duly 
executed. Flet nee dolet. And something of this is true of 
Dickens. In the great masters of pathos our tears are not 
drawn from us ; they flow of themselves. There is no de- 
sign on the softness of our hearts, no insidious undermining, 
no painful and elaborate besiegement. For writers to kill, 
merely to melt their readers with a scene of tender emotion, 
is unjustifiable manslaughter. There is, in short, nothmg to 
be said for those whose delight it is with malice aforethought 
to spread a feast of woe and serve up little children, or any 
sweet human thing they can lay hands on, that their guests 
may enjoy the luxury of tears. These are the Herods of 
literature. Shakespeare never slays or butchers after this 
fashion. He would have saved Cordelia if it had been in 
his power ; but it was a moral necessity that she should die. 
He could no more have kept alive and blooming the fair 
flowers of the field when evil winds blew than preserved that 
lovely form from perishing amidst the wild passions that 
Lear's sad error had let loose. " Sin entered into the world, 
and death by sin ; " and this death falls not only on the 
guilty. Goneril and Regan perish ; and so the true daughter, 
though with all our hearts we cry with the old "child- 
changed" father, "Cordelia, stay a little." It cannot be 
otherwise. And so always there is nothing arbitrary in the 
pathetic scenes of the supreme artists. Of purely pathetic 
writing there are, perhaps, no better specimens in all our 


literature than the tales of the Clerk of Oxford and of the 
Man of Law. Both poems aim at showing how the " meek 
shall inherit the earth " — how true and genuine natures do 
in the end triumph, however desperately defeated and crushed 
they may for a time, or for many times, seem to be. Chaucer 
weeps himself, or grows, indeed, something impatient, as he 
conducts his heroines along their most sad course. The 
thorns of the way pierce his feet also ; and he would fain 
uproot them, and scatter soft flowers for the treading of his 
woeful wayfarers. But he knew well that all pilgrimages 
were not as easy as that one he sings of to Canterbury, that 
was lightened with stories and jests ; but that certain spirits 
must go on in darkness and weariness, with aching limbs and 
breaking hearts, through much tribulation. In both works, 
perhaps, surveyed from the purely aesthetic point of view, 
there is an excess of woeful incident ; the bitter cup which 
Constance and Griselda have to drain seems too large for 
mortal lips. In this regard we must remember that both 
these tales, though inserted into the grand work of Chaucer's 
maturity, yet were certainly written in his youth. The Man 
of Law, in his Prologue, gives us to understand that the tale 
he proposes to narrate was written by Chaucer, of whose 
writings he speaks, both expressly and fully, in that highly 
interesting and important passage " of olde time." A 
careful study of the Clerk^s Tale undoubtedly demonstrates 
that it, too, was an earlier production. In both cases, so 
far as the mere facts go, Chaucer closely follows his authori- 
ties, much after the manner of Shakespeare. In the latter 
case the closeness — Petrarch's well-known letter to Boccaccio 
is the authority — is so strict that Chaucer is compelled to 
speak for himself in an envoy at the conclusion. Perhaps the 
most pathetic passage in Chaucer's later writings is in the 
Knighfs Tale, which also, however, was first written before 


the noon of his genius. This passage is, of course, the death 
ofArcite. The event is necessary/ Arcite had been untrue 
to that solemnest of the pacts of chivalry — to the pact of 
sworn brotherhood (see especially Palamon's words to him 
in w. 271-293, and the quibble with which the other palli- 
ates his conduct, w. 295-303) ; and Arcite must die. His 
triumph in the lists had been but as the flourishing of a green 
bay-tree. The final scene is described with the utmost sim- 
plicity. The evil spirits that ought never to have found a 
harbour in his heart have at last been expelled from it, and 
the old fealty has returned ; and the last words of his speech 
to Emily, whom he has bade take him softly in her ** armes 
twaye " " for love of God," and hearken what he says, are a 
generous commendation of his rival : — 

" I have heer with my cosyn Palomon 

Had stryf and rancour many a day i-gon 

For love of yow, and eek for jelousie. 

And Jupiter so wis my sowle gye, 

To speken of a servaunt proprely 

With alle circumstaunces trewely, 

That is to seyn, truthe, honour, and knighthede, 

Wysdom, humblesse, astaat, and hye kinrede, 

Fredam, and al that longeth to that art, 

So Jupiter have of my soule part, 

As in this world right now ne knowe I non 

So worthy to be loved as Palomon, 

That serveth you, and wol do al his lyf. 

And if that ye schul ever be a wjrf. 

Forget not Palomon, that gentil man." 

Assuredly Chaucer was endowed in a very high degree with 
what we may call the pathetic sense. It would seem to have 
been a favourite truth with him that 

* Prof. Ebert is of opinion that Chaucer's grasp of the moral inten- 
tion of the KnigMs Tale is less vigorous and firm than that of Boccaccio, 
and it may be so. 


" Pite renneth sone in gentil herte." ^ 

It ran " sone " and abundantly in his own most tender bosom. 
But he is never merely sentimental or maudlin. We can 
believe that the Levite of the Parable shed a tear or two as 
he crossed over to the " other side " from where that robbed 
and wounded traveller lay, and perhaps subsequently drew a 
moving picture of the sad spectacle he had so carefully 
avoided. Chaucer's pity is of no such quality. It springs 
from the depths of his nature; nay, from the depths of 
Nature herself moving in and through her interpreter. 

Another respect in which Chaucer is not unworthy of 
some comparison with his greater successor is his irony. 
We use the word in the sense in which Dr. Thirlwall uses it 
of Sophocles in his excellent paper printed in the Philo- 
logical Museum some forty years ago, and in which Schlegel, 
in his Lectures on Dramatic Literature^ uses it of Shake- 
speare, to denote that dissembling, so to speak, that self- 
retention and reticence, or, at least, indirect presentment, 
that is a frequent characteristic of the consummate dramatist, 
or the consummate writer of any kind who aims at portray- 
ing life in all its breadth. We are told often enough of the 
universal sympathy that inspires the greatest souls, and it is 
well ; but let us consider that universal sympathy does not 
mean blind, undiscriminating, wholesale sympathy, but pre- 
cisely the opposite. Only that sympathy can be all-inclusive 
that is profoundly intelligent as well as intense ; and this 
profound intelligence is incompatible with any complete and 
unmitigated adoration. The eyes that scrutinize the world 
most keenly, though they may see infinite noblenesses that 
escape a coarser vision, yet certainly see also much meanness 

* This line occurs in several of his poems — in the Knighfs Tale and 
in the Legend of Good Women^ &c. 


and pravity. Hence, to speak generally, for exceptions do 
not concern us, there is no such thing amongst the deep- 
seeing and really man-leamed as unqualified and absolute 
admiration. And thus the supremest writers have no heroes 
in the ordinary acceptation of that term. There is not a hero 
in all Shakespeare ; not even Harry the Fifth is absolutely 
so. For a like reason, there is no quite perfect villain. 
Neither monsters of perfection nor of imperfection find 
favour with those that really know mankind. Thus a real 
master never completely identifies himself with any one of 
his characters. To say that he does so is merely a fa^on de 
parler. They are all his children, and it cannot but be that 
some are dearer to him than others, but not one, if he is wise, 
is an idol unto him. His irony consists in the earnest, heart- 
felt, profound representation of them, while yet he is fully 
alive to their failings and failures. It is observable only in 
the supremest geniuses. Men of inferior knowledge and 
dimmer light are more easily satisfied. They make golden 
images for themselves and fall down and worship them. 
Shakespeare stands outside each one of his plays, a little 
apart and above the fervent figures that move in them, like 
some Homeric god that from the skies watches the furious 
struggle, whose issue is irreversibly ordered by Moipa 
xparai^ — that cannot save Sarpedon or prolong the days of 
Achilles. Chaucer, too, in a similar way abounds in secon- 
dary meanings. What he teaches does not lie on the sur- 
face. He never resigns his judgment or ceases to be a free 
agent in honour of any of the characters he draws. He never 
turns fanatic. He hates without bigotry ; he loves without 
folly ; he worships without idolatry. This excellent temper 
of his mind displays itself strikingly in the Prologue, which, 
with all its ardour, is wholly free from extravagance or self- 



It is because his spirit enjoyed and retained this lofty 
freedom that it was so tolerant and capacious. He, like 
Shakespeare, was eminently a Human Catholic, no mere 
sectary. He refused to no man an acknowledgment of 
kindred ; for him there were no poor relations whom he for- 
bade his house, or neighbours so fallen and debased that in 
their faces the image of God in which man was made was 
wholly obliterated. And it is because his understanding is 
thus wide and deep, and his sympathies commensurate with 
that understanding, that his ethical teaching is, for all time, 
sound and true. He is no formal or formulating moralist ; 
he never adds his voice to the mere party cries of his day, 
or concentrates his energies on any dogma. To speak of 
him as a zealous religious reformer is ridiculous ; ^ far other 
was his business. But yet he was a great moral teacher, one 
of our greatest — ^xbt dfivfiova llriXdava, All the world's a 
school, if we may adapt Jaques' words, and all the men and 
women merely school-children. Chaucer is a teacher in this 
great world-school, and in no lesser or special seminary ; 
and the lessons he gives are " exceeding broad." They are 
such as life itself gives. They breathe out of his works in a 
natural stream, no mere accidents, but the essential spirit of 
them, to be discovered not by the labels but in the works 
themselves : — 

*' Oh ! to what uses shall we put 
The wildweed-flower that simply blows ? 

And is there any moral shut 
Within the bosom of the rose ? 

** But any man that walks the mead, 
In bud, or blade, or bloom may find, 

* Chaucer was just as much of a Lollard as Shakespeare was of a 
Puritan. A recent writer has, we believe, demonstrated — to his own 
satisfaction — that Shakespeare was the latter. Certainly he was no 
Anti-Puritan ; nor was Chaucer an Anti-Wicliffite. 


According as his hmnours lead, 

A meanii^ suited toliis mind. 
And liberal applications lie 

In Art like Nature, dearest friend ; 
So 'twere to cramp its use, if I 

Should hook it to some useful end." 


There is just one point of personal likeness between 
Chaucer and Shakespeare that we wish to notice. Of each 
man, as his contemporaries knew him, the chief characteristic 
was a wonderful lovableness of nature. The special epithet 
bestowed on Shakespeare by the men of his day was not the 
Wise, or the Witty, but the Gentle.^ Thus Ben Jonson, in 
his lines " To the Memory of my Beloved the Author, Mr. 
William Shakespeare, and what he has left us " — lines which 
surely must have been forgotten by those critics, long since 
routed by Gifford, who gave the great-hearted " Ben " so 
little credit for generosity and affection : — 

" Yet must I not give Nature all ; thy Art, 
My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part." 

And, after saying that — 

"the father's fJEU^ 
Lives in his issue,' 

he apostrophized the " Sweet Swan of Avon." Again, in his 
lines prefixed to the portrait of the 1623 folio, he speaks 
of " The gentle Shakespeare." In his Timber, he writes — 
" I loved the man, on this side idolatry, as much as any. 
He was indeed honest, and of an open and free nature," &c. 
That Chaucer inspired a similar affection and love appears 

^ One cannot but remember here the cI^koXo^ , by which Aristophanes 
makes Dionysus describe Sophocles : 

V tiiKoKoq fikv ivBaS\ tvKoKog $* licet. 

Aristoph. Frogs, p. 82. 

And might not Goethe be described by some such epithet ? 



fixHn the waim-heaited language in whidi both Ocdeve and 
Lydgate make mention of him. It 'is the language of real 
attachment, kindled by no mere brilliancy of wit, but by a 
kindly genial love-winning nature. Qcdere, when the 
great poet had passed away, wails thus with an unwonted 
fervour : — 

**' O maistfr done and finder reva e nt 

My maister Chancer, floore of eloqnenoe, 

Mirroar of fmctnoos entendement, 

O uiiiTersal fader in sdence. 

Alias ! that thoa thyne excdlent prudence 

In thy bedde mortalle mygfatest not bequethe ; 

What eyleth dethe, alas I why wold he sle thee." 


Alias I my worthy maister honorable. 
This londes verray tresoar and richesse, 
Dethe by thy dethe hath harme iireperable 
Unto us done." 

* • • • • 

" That combre-world that thee my maister slow — 
Wolde I slayne were ! — dethe was to hastyfe 
To renne on the and reve the thy life." 

** O maister, maist^, God thy sonle reste ! 


And so the verses of Lydgate, in his Troye-hook^ which 
for the most part flow but dull and languidly, thrill with a 
sincere emotion when he speaks of him, whom he, too, calls 
his " dear master." The old "pantographer's" voice breaks, 
so to say, as he names the loved name, and recalls that 
vanished presence as he knew it, so sensitive, unexacting, 
self-disparaging, so " charitable, and so pitous." 

Did Shakespeare read the works of Chaucer ? This is of 
course a question which has little or nothing to do with the 
unanimity of their geniuses. Wordsworth was by no means 
a poet of the Chaucerian type ; yet he tells us how • 



B«side the pleasant Mill at Trompington 
I laughed with Chaucer in the hawthorn shade : 
Heard him, while birds were warbling, tell his tales 
Of amorous passion. " 

And he has reproduced three ^ Chaucerian pieces with a 
reverent manner that contrasts forcibly with the freedom 
with which Dryden and Pope handled the old master. 
Neither is Tennyson a cognate spirit ; and yet A Dream of 
Fair Women is an inspiration of the elder poet : — 

** I read, before my eyelids dropt their shade 

The Legend of Good Wanun^ long ago 
Sung by the morning star of song, who made 

His music heard below. 

" Dan Chaucer^ the first warbler, whose sweet breath 

Preluded those melodious bursts that fill 
The spacious times of great Elizabeth 

With sounds that echo still. 

" And, for a while, the knowledge of his art 
Held me above the subject, as strong gales 
Hold swollen clouds from raining, tho* my heart, 
. Brimfiil of those wild tales, 

" Charged both mine eyes with tears." 

And at last he dreams, as we know, of Iphigenia and Helen, 
and the other disastrous or ill-starred beauties of bygone 

This question of Shakespeare's knowledge of Chaucer has 
as yet received ho proper attention whatever. Godwin, at 
the beginning of this century, noticing "the high honour the 
poem of Troyius and CryseydehsLS received in having been 
made the foundation of one of the plays of Shakespear," re- 
marked that " there seems to have been in this respect a 

' The best authorities now incline to agree that the Cuckoo and 
Nightingale is not the work of Chaucer. 


sort of conspiracy in the commentators upon' Shakespear 
against the glory of our old English bard." This " con- 
spiracy " was perhaps scarcely deliberate ; it was rather a 
mere concord of ignorance. Now that Chaucer is becoming 
better known, signs of Shakespeare's familiarity with him are 
occasionally discerned.^ But not yet, as we have said, has 
this matter been properly investigated. Yet it is quite cer- 
tain that there is much valuable illustration of the great 
Elizabethan dramatist to be derived from the great Planta- 
genet tale-teller. 

Apart from any overt facts to be found in the works of 
Shakespeare, would it not be incredible that he should not 
have known the writings of the Highest preceding English 
genius, especially when we consider what we have already 
discussed — the profound congeniality that exists between the 
two minds ? Would not " deep call unto deep " ? 

When Shakespeare " came of age," the one great name of 
English literature was Chaucer. Spenser had not yet put 
forth all his strength. Wyatt, and Surrey, and Sackville 
were but lesser lights. To Spenser and to Shakespeare, 
looking back into the past, th,e one great prominent figure 
was that of Chaucer. He bestrode the world of English 
literature like a Colossus, and the Gowers, and Occleves, 
and Lydgates, and Barclays, "petty men, walked under his 
huge legs." It would be less difficult to believe that Virgil 
did not know Ennius, than that Shakespeare did not know 
Chaucer. English literature then without Chaucer would 
be simply Hamlet without Hamlet. Shakespeare read the 
Confessio Amantis, if Pericles * is in part at least his work, 

' We are glad to see some illustrations from Chaucer are given in 
Messrs. Clark and Wright's edition of Hamlet^ just published by the 
University of Oxford. 

* Oddly enough, the story of King Antiochus's incest which occupies 


and it is not easy to deny it to be so in the face of the evi- 
dence for connecting it with him. That he should read 
Gower and ignore Chaucer would be as extraordinary as if 
the coming great genius of the close of the twenty-first cen- 
tury — whoever and whatever he is — should study his Tupper, 
and let Browning grow mouldy on his shelf; or — not to go 
too far into the future, although we have not a shadow of 
doubt as to the verdict of posterity, unless, indeed, there 
presently sets in a millenium of platitudes — as if the Brown- 
ings and Tennysons of our own day should prize Kyd above 
Shakespeare himself, or, to be quite definite, delight in the 
perusal oijeronimo rather than oi Macbeth, Surely Chaucer's 
language could be no insuperable barrier to Shakespeare's 
acquaintance with him. It is, perhaps, slightly more obso- 
lete than that of Gower ; but it is only slightly so. 

Chaucer was accessible. Editions of him were published 
in 1542, 1546, 1555, and 1598. 

It may be well, perhaps, before proceeding any further, to 
notice a little more fully how predominant was the fame of 
Chaucer in the latter half of the sixteenth century. The 
'best collection of commemorations of him yet made is that 
prefixed to Urry^s edition of his works ; but even that is ex- 
tremely meagre. It would not be difficult to collect Chau- 
cerian tribute from Latimer, Ascham, and others of the age 
inmiediately preceding the age of Shakespeare. But it is 
more important to show that such tribute was voluntarily 
paid by the very circle in which Shakespeare himself 
moved, or with whose works he could not but have been 
familiar. There is every probability that Shakespeare knew 


the first part of Pericles^ is especially reprobated by the ''Man of Law 
in his Prologue, as one that Chaucer would in no wise tell. Chaucer 
evidently thinks that he whom he himself calls " the moral Gower *' 
shook! have known better than to meddle with it. 


Spenser personally ; one can scarcely doubt that they met, 
during Spenser's London visits, at the house of the Earl of 
Essex, the close friend of the Eari of Southampton ; for * 
Lord Essex was an intimate friend of Spenser's, and the love 
Shakespeare " dedicated " to Lord Southampton was " with- 
out end" Ben Jonson, Daniel, Drayton, Fletcher, were 
amongst Shakespeare's closest friends, according to tradi- 
tions of value, as well as amongst his most eminent contem- 
poraries. Now, all these five great poets confess, in one 
way or another, their knowledge and admiration of Chaucer. 
Spenser, in his Shefherdes Calendar, in his Faerie Queene, in 
his View of the Present State of Ireland, either refers to or 
expressly mentions him ; in Mother Hubberds Tale he essays 
his manner, with such success as might be expected. Most 
noticeable is the passage in the last book of the Shepherdes 
Calendar, which tells us Colin, that is, himself — 

" Wei could pype and singe, 
For he of Tityrus his songs did lere " — 

that Tityrus was Chaucer we know on the authority, if any 
authority is wanted, of his friend and annotator, Edward 
Kirke — and the passages in the Faerie Queene, in which he 
gives full voice to his delight and love. One is the well- 
known canto (the second of book iv.), in which, not without 
fear and trembling and a cry for pardon, he sets himself to 
conclude the " half-told " " story of Cambuscan bold ; " in 
the other, not so generally noticed, which occurs in one of 
the fragments of book vii., he speaks of — 

" Old Dan Geflfrey, in whose gentle spright 
The pure well-head of Poesie did dwell." 

There can be no 'doubt that the antique cast of Spenser's 
language is mainly attributable to Chaucer's influence. To 
him the language of Chaucer seemed to be the proper Ian- 


gaage of poetry. As the grammarian, L. ^Elius Stilo, fe said 
to have declared that had the Muses written Latin, they 
would have adopted the dialect of Plautus, so Spenser held 
that^ had they spoken the English tongue, they would have 
modelled themselves on Chaucer. To Ben Jonson, Chaucer 
was the chief English classic of the older rime ; see his 
Grammary passim. Daniel, in his Musophilus — ^a poem full 
of fine thought and fluent expression '* containing a general 
defence of learning" — ^grieving to think that a time may 
be coming when Chaucer may fall out of remembrance — 
speaks with high enthusiasm of the triumphs he has already 

won: — 

** Yet what a time hatfi he wrested from time, 

And won upon the mighty waste of days 

Unto th* immortal honour of our clime 

That by his means came first adorned with bays ? 

Unto the sacred relics of whose time,* 

We yet are bound in zeal to oflfer praise." 

Then follows a curious general prophecy,* that, in fact, 
precisely applies to Chaucer. It anticipates that revival of 
which we have spoken in the beginning of this paper : — 

"the stronger constitutions shall 
Wear out th* infection of distempered days. 
And come with glory to outlive this &11 
Recc^ring of another spring ofpraisey 

* For time in this line we should, perhaps, read rime^ or rhyme^ as 
we corruptly spell the word. 

' There is another striking prophecy, an imagined possibility, in this 
poem. • It relates to the spread of the language : — 

"And who in time knows whither we may vent 

The treasure of our tongue ? To what strange shores 

This gain of our best glory shall be sent 

T* enrich unknowing nations with our stores ? 

What worlds in th* yet unformed Occident 

May come refin'd with th* accents that are ours.*' 


* Clear'd from th* oppressing humours wherewithal 
The idle multitude surchaiige their lays." 

Drayton, in his epistle To my dearly-laved friend^ Henry 
Reynolds^ Esq., of Poets and Poesy — a survey, of singular in- 
terest for us now, of the poetry of his day, preceded by a 
rapid retrospect — begins his splendid catalogue with the 
name of Chaucer : — 

•* That noble Chaucer in those former times 
The first enrichVi our English with his rhymes. 
And was the first of ours that ever brake , 
Into the Muses* treasure, and first spake 
In weighty numbers, delving in the mine 
Of perfect knowledge, which he could refine. 
And coin for current, and as much as then 
The Ei^lish language could express to men. 
He made it do ; and by his wondrous skill 
Gave us much light from his abundant quill. ** 

Still more interesting in connection with our special topic 
is the Prologue of the Two Noble Kinsmeny a play, as is well 
known, founded on the Knights Tale, mainly written by 
Fletcher, but in whose composition it seems highly probable 
Shakespeare himself took some part. Says the Prologue of 
the play it introduces : — 

•* It has a noble breeder, and a pure, 

A learned, and a poet never went 

More famous yet 'twixt Po and silver Trent. 

Chaucer, admired of all, the story gives ; 

There constant to eternity it lives ! 

If we let fall the nobleness of this. 

And the first sound this child hear be a hiss. 

How will it shake the bones of that good man. 

And make him cry from underground : ' Oh ! fan 

From me the witless chaff of such a writer 

That blasts my bays, and my famed works makes lighter 

Than Robin Hood.* This is the fear we bring ; 

For, to say truth, it were an endless thing . 



And loo ambitiouE, to nspire Id him, 

Weak as we 3Xt, and almost breathless swim 

In Ihis deep water. Do but you hold out 

Your helping hands, and we will tack about 

And something do Co save us ; yoQ shall hear 

Scenes, though below his art, may yet appear 

Worth two hours' travel. To bis bones sweet sleep ! 

It would be easy to mulriply these praises of Chaucer, did 
the limits of our space allow us ; but surely me have quoted 
enough to show what an object of real veneration and love 
tlie old poet was in Shakespeare's time, and how sincere and 
earnest celebrations of him must have perpetually sounded 
in Shakespeare's ears. A priori, therefore, it might have 
been concluded that Shakespeare was familiar with the 
greatest English pieces of characterization, and humour, and 
pathos, that had appeared before him. But we need not 
rest content with an inference. If we turn lo the plays them- 
selves, we have abundant evidence of that familiarity. 

Chaucer, it is true, is not represented in the picture Shake- 
speare gives of Chaucer's age, in his plays of Richard the 
Second and Henry the Fourth. FaJstafT, it seems, was on 
sp>eaking and jesting terms with John of Gaunt, who was 
Chaucer's great friend and patron, "John a Gaunt," as we 
learn, had once " burst " Shallow's head, and Falstaff had 
told him he had beaten his own name. But we see no 
Chaucer in the retinue of " lime-honoured Lancaster." He 
is not by any means, however, conspicuous by hts absence, 
any more than Lydgale in Henry the Fifth, or Skelton and 
Surrey in Hairy the Eighth. Indeed, known in the Eliza- 
bethan age only as a poet, and not as a diplomatist or a 
politician, he would have seemed something out of place in 
a " History," when all the interest centres on the throne and 
its occupants; for Shakespeare's " Histories" do not aim at 


giving complete descriptions of the times with which they 
deal. They are regal rather than national pieces. In that 
very play of Richard the Second we hear nothing of Wat 
Tyler ; just as in King John we hear nothing of Magna Charta, 
It must also be noted that there was much material com- 
mon to the times both of Chaucer and Shakespeate, which 
both have used. There were common authors, as Ovid, and 
common legends. With regard to the Romances of Chivalry, 
it is striking to notice how both poets declined to use them. 
Chaucer's taste anticipated the taste of Shakespeare. And 
so with regard to allegory. Chaucer soon outgrew that form 
of writing, so fashionable in his age ; Shakespeare scarcely 
ever adopted it, for he does not seem to have cared to write 
masques.^ It would seem contrariwise that many things 
attracted them. both. They both tell the story of Lucretia 
— Chaucer in his Legend of Good Women, following Ovid, 
Shakespeare in his Tarquin and Lucrece, partly under the 
influence, as we shall see, of a quite different work of 
Chaucer's. Chaucer briefly recounts the fall of Julius Caesar 
in his Monkes Tale, as Shakespeare so splendidly in his great 
play, both committing an error as to the scene, which they 
make the Capitol (so Polonius in Hamlet) \ both portray 
the tragic ends of Pyramus and Thisbe, in the Legend of 
Good Women and the Midsummer Nighfs Dream respec- 
tively, Chaucer translating Ovid with all submission, Shake- 
speare giving his humour, free play at a story, which is absurd 
enough, notably in the matter of that cracked wall, if one 

^ Neither poet had any liking for profuse alliteration ; see the 

"Trusteth wel, I am a Suthem man, 

I cannot geste nmi raf ruf by the letter : " 

and Shakespeare's ridicule in the Midsummer Nighfs Dream, v. t, and 
Lov^s Labour's Lost^ iv. 2. 


lets one's self realize it. Cleopatra is another of the Saints 
of Cupid in the Legend already twice mentioned, as she is 
also a famous Shakespearian '* person ; " both Chaucer and 
Shakespeare holding a far too favourable opinion of her 
lover, whom the former describes 

"a fill worthy gentil werreyour." 

Dido, Ariadne, Medea, Philomela, are well-known figures to 
both, though only the older poet, who, as living in the first 
glimmering of the Renaissance, lay humbly at the feet of 
the author of the HeroideSy honours them with special 

The true power of Chaucer is not displayed in any one of 
the pieces just mentioned ; for of the Saints Legend of Cupid, 
as the Man of Law intitules it, undoubtedly the most valu- 
able part is the Prologue; and as for the Monies Tale, we 
weary of it, even as the Knight, with all his courtesy, wearied, 
and half agree with the free-spoken host — the very " able " 
chairman of the Pilgrim party — 

*' Such talkyng is nought worth a boterflye, 
For therinne is noon disport ne game.*' 

Certainly not in Shakespeare's treatment of the just-men- 
tioned stories is his knowledge of Chaucer, or Chaucer's 
influence upon him, obviously manifested. The two works 
of Chaucer which evidently attracted Shakespeare most 
were The Knighfs Tale and Troylus and Cryseyde ; and the 
tokens of this attraction are to be seen in the Midsummer 
Nighfs Dream and in The Two Noble Kinsmen, in Venus 
and Adonis, Tarquin and Lucrece, Troilus and Cressida, and 
Romeo and Juliet, The Cokes Tale of Gamely n, as every- 
body has long agreed, is not by Chaucer ; but in the Eliza- 
bethan age it was believed to be so. Shakespeare was cer- 
tainly acquainted with it, as well as with the prose version 


of it incorporated in 'LxAg^^ Rosalynd^ the source oiAs You 
Like It Besides these connections, there are scattered 
throughout Shakespeare's plays and poems various other 
indications that the writings of Chaucer were anything but 
a sealed or an unopened book to him. 

To mention a few of these latter echoes : the Man of Law, 
as fre have mentioned, names The Legend of Good Women, 
The Seintes Legende of Cupid, and Chaucer, in the Latin 
heading of the various parts of the Legend, styles each 
heroine " a martyr." Compare Pericles i. i, where Antiochus 
describes the fallen suitors of his daughter as 

'* martyrs, slain in Cupid's wars ; " 

and the Princess's Saint Denis to Saint Cupid, in Lav^s 
Labouf^s Lost, v. 2. ' 

Compare The Assembly of Foules — 

'* And brekers of the law, soth for to saine. 
And likerous folk, after that they been dede, 
Shal whirle about the world alway in paine. 
Til many a world be passed, out of drede," &c. 

with Claudius's — 

**To be imprisoned in the viewless winds, 
And blown with restless violence round about 
The pendent world." — Measure for Measure, iii. I. 

Again, compare from the same poem — 

** The wery hunter slep)mge in hys bed. 

To woode ayeine hys mynde gooth anoon ; 

The juge dremeth how hys plees ben sped ; 

The cartar dremeth how his cartes goone ; 

The ryche of golde, the knyght fyght with his fone ; 

The seke meteth he drynketh of the tonne ; 

The lover meteth he hath hys lady wonne," 

with that marvellously brilliant speech of Mercutio, of Queen 
Mab's doings :— 


" She gallops night, by night 

Through lovers* brains, and then they dream of love : " 

* * « « • 

" O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees : " 

* « * * * 

" Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck," &c* 
Compare Legende of Good Wemeny Prologue — 

" My worde, my werkes, ys knyt so in youre bonde 
That as an harpe obeieth to the honde 
That makith it soune after his fyngerynge, 
Ryght so mowe ye oute of myne herte bringe 
Swich vois, ryght as yow list, to laughe and pleyne," 

with Hamlet's rebuke of those unfortunate catspaws, Rosen- 
crantz and Guildenstern : — 

" Hamlet Will you play upon this pipe ? 

Guil, My lord, I cannot 

Hamlet, I pray you. 

GuiL Believe me, I cannot. 

Hamlet, I do beseech you. 

Guil. I know no touch of it, my lord. 

Hamlet, *Tis as easy as Ijring. Govern these ventages with your 
finger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse 
most eloquent music Look you, these are the stops. 

Guil, But these cannot I conmiand to any utterance of harmony ; 
I have not the skilL 

^ Comp. Lucretius, iv. 965 et seq, : — 

'• In somnis eadem plerumque videmus obire ; 
Causidici causas agere et componere leges, 
Induperatores pugnare ac proelia obire, 
Nautse contractum cum ventis degere bellum, 
Nos agere hoc autem et naturam quaerere rerum 
Semper et inventam patriis exponere chartis," 

and infra, loi i et seq, : — 

" Porro hominum mentes, magnis qui mentibus edunt 
Magna, itidem ssepe in somnis faciuntque geruntque ; 
R^es expugnant, capiuntur, proelia miscent, 
Tollunt clamorem, quasi si jugulentur ibidem," &c. 


Hamlet, Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of 
me I You would play upon me ; you would seem to know my stops ; 
you would pluck out the heart of my mystery ; you would sound me 
from my lowest note to the top of my compass ; and there is much 
music, excellent voice in this little organ ; yet cannot you make it 
speak. 'S blood ! do you think I am easier to be played on than a 
pipe ? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet 
you cannot play upon me." 

And also with what he says to Horatio— 

" Blest are those 
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled. 
That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger 
To sound yrhat stop she please." 

Compare, ibid,, — 

** For love shal me yeve strength'e and hard3messe. 
To make my wounde large ynogh, I gesse," 

with Mercutio, of his own fatal hurt — 

** No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door ; but 
'tis enough ; 'twill serve. Ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find 
me a grave man." 

The only Canterbury pilgrims, perhaps, that have been 
present to Shakespeare's mind, on its days of creation, are 
the Host and the Sompnour. The resemblance between 
mine host of the " Tabard " and mine host of the " Garter " 
has often been pointed out, as also that between the physique 
of the Sompnour and " one Bardolph, if your majesty know 
the man : his face is all bubukles, and whelks, and knobs, 
and flames of fire." That there should not be other per- 
sonal parallels besides that between the landlords arises 
partly from the different principles on which the two geniuses 
worked. Shakespeare did not attempt to reproduce the 
society of his time fully and exactly as did Chaucer. It 
would be easier to find counterparts to Chaucer's charac- 
ters in Ben Jonson, the great collector and preserver of 


"humours." That difference in ^^ persona " arises also from 
the immense change that passed over English life between 
the fourteenth and the sixteenth century. The social world 
has its deluges no less than the material — 

" O earth 1 what changes hast thou seen ! '' 

and the interval between those centuries was a "diluvial 
period." The old forms of life had been swept away. The 
" wanton and merry " friar, the " full fat " lordly monk, the 
smooth-tongued pardoner, and many another, had all gone 
hence, and were no more seen ; and a race had succeeded 
that knew not St. Thomas or his fellow-saints. 

Of Shakespeare's knowledge of the Knighfs Tale there are 
several indications in the Midsummer Nighfs Dream} In 
both pieces the presiding figures are those of "Duke" 
Theseus and Hippolyta ; the scenes are Athens and woods 
near Athens. The name Philostrate is common to both — 
in the older, work as the name worn by Arcite when he 
returns disguised to the court of Theseus, in the later as that 
of the Master of the Revels to Theseus. The poem begins 
just after the marriage of Theseus. The conqueror of " the 
regne of Femynge" is just bringing his bride 

'' hoom with him in his contre, 
With moche glorie and gret solempnite.**- 

In the play he has just brought her home, to be wedded 

"With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.** 

It is impossible when, later on in the tale, we see Theseus and 
Hippoljrta, out a hunting in the May time, come upon Pala- 
mon and Arcite, madly fighting for love in a forest glade, not 

* See !k>me excellent rem^ks on this point in Hippesley's Chapters 
an Early English LifenUurt^^p]^, 6o-62. 


to remember how in the pky the same noble pair, " hearing 
the music" of the hounds, discover a group of lovers 
strangely reposing on the woodland grass, having risen up 
early, as the Duke thinks, " to observe the rite of May," all 
rivalry, as the event proves, now appeased and ended. In 
both pieces we have two lovers devoted to one lady. In the 
play this position is repeated twice. But still closer is the 
contact between Shakespeare and the Knighfs Tale^ if, as is 
stated in the edition of the Two Noble Kinsmen^ published 
in 1634, that work is indeed ** by the memorable worthies of 
their own time, Mr. John Fletcher and Mr. William Shak- 
speare ; " for the Two Noble Kinsmen is, in fact, a dramati- 
zation of the Knighfs Tale, The statement of the title-page 
might go for little, if it were not supplemented by internal 
evidence. For our part we are inclined to agree with those 
critics who recognize the direct work of Shakespeare in cer- 
tain passages of the drama and imitations of him in other 
parts. The subsidiary plot of the gaoler's daughter and her 
furious passion for Palamon is certainly not by the hand of 
the master. The madness scene would appear to have been 
suggested by Ophelia's frenzy. Gerrold and his rustic 
merrymakers seem a faint reflection of the incomparable 
Bottom and his company. The scenes which are assuredly 
Shakespeare's, if any are, are those which confine themselves 
to the story as rendered by Chaucer, expanding or contract- 
ing it as is required by dramatic necessity and the judgment 
of the reproducer. They are, without controversy, the work 
of one who held his original in no mean honour. The 
warmly admiring and reverent mention of its author, made 
in the Prologue, has already been quoted. 

But the work of Chaucer's whose traces are most frequently 
perceptible in Shakespeare's writings, is unquestionably 
Troilus and Cressida, Troilus and Cressida i^2& \ki<^ most 



popular love-poem of our literature, from the time of its 
composition, or free and vigorous reproduction from Boc- 
caccio. In the fifteenth century a Scotch poet, ty name 
Henryson, wrote a continuation of it^ Sixteenth-century 
praises of it abound. " Chaucer," says Sidney, in his Apo- 
logic for' Poetrie^ " undoubtedly did excellently in hys Troy- 
lus and Cre3sid; of whom truly I know not whether to mer- 
vaile more either that he in that mistie time could see so 
clearely, or that wee in this cleare age walke so stumblingly 
after him." • 

Shakespeare's acquaintance with this general favourite is, 
in our opinion, exhibited, as we have saidj most strikiYigly in 
his play of the same name, in Romeo and Juliet^ in Tarqutn 
and Lticrece^ and in Venus and Adonis ; but in others of his 
works also there may perhaps be discerned symptoms of it. 
Compare — 

** For hit is seyd men makyn oft a yerd 
With which the maker is himself ybeten 
In sundry maner as thes wise men tretyn,*' 

with King jLear : — 



The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices 
Make instruments to scourge us." 

** What know I of the queene Niobe ? 
Let be thin old ensaumplis, I the pray." 

with Hamlet's — 

t " What is Hecmba to him, or he to Hecuba ? " 

* From the "Cressida was a beggar" of Tkvelfth Night (iii. i), it 
would appear that Shakespeare knew this continuation. 

* See p. 62 of Mr. Arber*s reprint. Is Mr. Arber*s excellent series 
of reprints generally known to our readers ? It is not easy to commend 
them too warmly for their accuracy and their cheapness. 



In the Merchant of Venice, in that famous " out-nighting " 
scene, Lorenzo says. how — 

"in such a night 
Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls, 
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents, 
Where Cressid lay that night." 

This is straight from Chaucer, who describes the poor forlorn 
lover, how — 

" Upon the walles fast ek wolde he walke, 

And on the Grekes oost he wolde see : 

And to h)rmself right thus he wolde talke : 

So yonder is myn owene lady free, 

Or elles yonder, ther the tentes be, . 

And thennes cometh this eyre that is so soote. 

That in my soule I feele it doth me boote. 

** And hardyly this wynd that moore and moore 
Thus stoundemele encressith in my face. 
Is of my lady depe sykes sore ; 
I preve it thus, for in noon" other place 
Of all this town, save oonly in this space, 
^ * Feel I no wynde that souneth so lyke pe5nie. 

It seith * Alias ! why twynned be we tweyne ? 

» »> 

But, to turn to the pieces above mentioned as more espe- 
cially reflecting the knowledge of Chaucer's poem : it is in 
Venus and AdoniSy " the first heir of my invention," as might 
be expected, that the influence of Chaucer's manner is most 
visible. We venture to think that Chaucer is the master of 
Shakespeare in undramatic as Marlowe in dramatic poetry. 
In both poetries the style of the teacher has left its mark at 
least upon the earlier productions of the pupil. The. lead- 
ing features of Chaucer's Troylus and Cryseyde are, an ex- 
treme minuteness and fulness of description, an over-brim- 
ming abundance of imagery and illustration, an almost 
excessive display of poetical richness and power. In all 
these, respects the Venus and Adonis of Shakespeare corre- 


sponds. There are signs of youthfulness in both worlcs — 

the youthfulness of singularly deep and fertile natures. ' In 
. each poem there is but little action. Each writer is encum- 
bered, so to speak, by the wealth of his genius, so that 
m6vement is almost impossible. The exuberant growths of 
fancy cling around them trammellingly. The poems consist 
' for the most part of long conversations, or else monologues 
reported at the fullest length. They are the thinkings' aloud 
of minds of the utmost conceivable fulness and efflorescence. 
The passion depicted in both pieces is of the same sensuous 
order. The likeness in this respect is extremely noticeable. 
. Something of what has been said applies also to Tarquin 
and Lucrece^ but not all. The style of that work is severer 
than that of Venus and Adonis^ though there is the same in- 
exhaustible plenitude and lavishness of power. In one point 
of view it affords a remarkable contrast to the poem pub- 
lished in the preceding year. The chaste-souled Lucrece 
seems to rebuke the self-abandoning passion of Venus, as 
also that of the old Trojan paramours. The structure of the 
poem does not differ from that of Venus and Adonis^ which, 
as we have pointed out, is that of the Chaucerian work. It 
is not perhaps so important to notice that the metre of it is 
the same as that of Chaucer's poem — the seven-lined stanza 
or "rime royal," as it is called (which we in England 
might rather call the Chaucerian stanza ; for it is to Chaucer 
we owe as well its introduction into our country as its most 
successful cultivation) — inasmuch as it is the metre of the 
Mirrour of Magistrates arid other Tudor works ; but yet the 
fact should not be forgotten. 

In the great love-play, Romeo and Juliet^ there are to be 
observed many reminiscences of the great love-tale, Troylus 
and Cryseyde, Mercutio,* the love-mocker, recalls to the 
^ Compare also Kenedick in Much Ado about Nothing, 


mind of the reader what Troilus was before the hour of his 
sweet captivity came upon him, Pandarus reminds the 
smitten knight, how — 

" thou jvere wont to chace 
At tx)ve in scorne, and for despyt hym calle 
Seynt Idiote, Lord of thes folis alle. 

" How oft hast thou made thy nice japis 
And seyd that Loves servauntis everichon 
Of nycete ben verrey goddis apys ; 
And some wold monche her brede alone, 
Lying in bed, and make hem for to grone ; 
And some thow seydist had a blaunch fevere, 
And preydist God he shold never kevere, • 

** And some of hem toke on hem for the cold. 
More than ynow, so seydist thow fill oft ; 
And some have feynid oft t)niie and told 
How they wake, whan her love slepe soft 
And thus have broght hem self a Joft, 
And natheles were undere at the last ; 
Thus seydist thow, and japedist ful fast." 

Compare Mercutio's name of " the ape " for Romeo, and 
his other lively wit-flights at the expense of the " tender 
passion." Compare Cryseyde's 

** Ful sharp bygynnyng brekith oft at ende," 

with Friar Laurence's sage-^ 

** These violent delights have violent ends, 
And in their triumph die." 

Compare the partings of the lovers as the day breaks (book 
iii. of Troilus and Cressida ; act iii. scene 5, of Romeo and 
Juliet)} Compare Troilus's presentiment — 

^ Thi^ parallel is pointed out by Godwin in his Life of Geoffrey 


" Alas ! thow saist right soth, quoth Troylus ; 

But, hardely, it is not al for nought, 

That in myn herte I now rejoysse thus ; 

It is ayenis some good, I have a thought ; 

Not I not how, but sen that I was wrought, 

Ne felt I swich a comfort, dar I seye ; 

She comth to nyght, my life that dorste I leye,** 

with Romeo's — 

" If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep. 
My dreams presage some joyful news at hand ; 
My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne. 
And all this day an unaccustomed spirit 
• Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts." 

But it is most natural to look for signs of Shakespeare's 
knowledge of Chaucer's Troylus and Cryseyde in his play of 
the same name ; and certainly signs are there, but they are 
signs of a dissentient knowledge rather than of a sympathetic. 
It dan scarcely, we think, be necessary for us, after what has* 
already been said, to insist that the commentators are im- 
perfectly informed who tell us that * Shakespeare knew 
nothing of Chaucer's poem, and that his only sources were 
Caxton's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye and Lydgate's 
Hisiorye^ Sege, and Dystrtucyon of Troye, That he drew 
from those works of Caxton and Lydgate, we do not deny ; 
for his play covers a much wider field than that of Chaucer's 
poem, and indeed the best parts of it have nothing to do 
with the lovers ; but there can be no doubt that for those 
scenes in which the eponyms do figure the older cefebrator 
of them was his chief authority. Chaucer is the one original 
in English for the story of Troilus and Cressida, His own 
debt to Boccaccio is unquestionable ; who " Lollius " was, to 
whom he acknowledges such perpetual obligations, is a yet 
unsolved mystery ; but for English readers he is the one 
original. . Thus Lydgate, in his Troy book, when he comes 


to Troilus and Cressida, at once cites Chaucer's poem as the 
source of all he has to tell, and, after those sincere expres- 
sions of reverence and love, to which we have referred above, 
proceeds to reproduce it. And so Gascoigne,^ who died a 
few years before Shakespeare left Stratford for London, when 
he alludes to the story, names Lollius and Chaucer as the 
great relaters of it. . 

But Shakespeare does not accept the story in the spirit in 
which Chaucer recounts it. Shakespeare's play by no means 
belongs to his " apprenticeship," as Dryden makes bold to 
state in the Preface to his own queer version of it ; it is, in 
fact, one of his later plays. We should incline to hold that 
Chaucer's poem belongs to about the same period of his life 
as that to which Romeo and Juliet belongs in the life of 
Shakespeare : it is the work of his genius when yet com- 
paratively nascent, in no wise mellow fruit. Hence the 
difference of treatment. Shakespeare's fully ripened judg- 
ment rejects altogether a certain unreality that marks 
Chaucer's poem. The fact is that the heroine, as the older 
poet paints her, is a mere fancy-creature. * Chaucer's heart 
was very soft towards women, and he could not harden it 
enough to represent Cressida faithfully. He could- not bring 
himself to call her by her right name ; he is always yearning 
to excuse her ; even for what he does say he is afterwards 
ready to make amends, and endeavours to make amends in 
the Legend of Good Women, With all her frailty he loved 
her tenderly, and would fain have been blind to her terrible 
treason. He was like some executioner paralyzed by the 
exceeding fairness of the head laid on the block before 


** Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde 

Ferthere thanne the storie wol devyse ; ' 
* See Gascoigne's Dan Bartholomew of Bathe, 


Hire name, alias ! is published so wyde, 
That for hire gilte it ought ynough suffise ; 
And if I myght excuse hire any wyse, 
For she so sory was for her untrouthe 
Ywis I wold excuse hire yet for routheJ* 

Shakespeare, on the other hand, more keen-sighted at all 
times, and writing at a season of life when the eyes of the 
wise, at least, are not so easily caught, and mere outward 
beauty is rated and valued with a truer discrimination, does 
justice inflexibly ; and when Nestor praises her, equivocally 
perhaps as " a woman of quick sense," Ulysses cries aloud 
and spares not : — 

" Fie, fie upon her ! 
There's a language in her eye, her cheek, her lip, 
Nay, her foot speaks ; her wanton spirits look out 
At every joint and motive of her body." * 


Quite different, too, are the representations of Pandarus. 
Chaucer, though not perhaps without misjgivings, ascribes 
his wonderful assiduity in his friend's behalf to the bond of 
"sworn brotherhood," by which he and Troilus, just as 
Palamon and Arcite, were so closely united ; Shakespeare 
does not deign to notice any such plea. He is persistently 
plain-spoken ; he lets black be black. It is then perhaps in 
his pointed disagreements with Chaucer's poem that Shake- 
speare's knowledge of it is manifested rather than in any 
concordance of incident or expression, though most certainly 
there is this concordance also. 

Our space has not permitted us to attempt an exhaustive 
list of the Chaucerian traces to be observed in the works of 
Shakespeare. Perhaps of those we have quoted, some may 
seem fanciful ; it is not essential to maintain our proposition 
' that all should be admitted ; but assuredly they cannot all 
be dismissed as unsubstantial pr fortuitous. 


There is, then, good ground for indulging the belief that 
the works of the great narrative poet of our literature were 
not absent from the studies of the supreme dramatist, who 
alone, perhaps, of all greatest geniuses, was in certain gifts 
of the imagination ever to surpass him. 



(From the Comhill Magazine^ February, 1876.) 

THE critics of the last century found a curious pleasure 
in proving that Shakespeare was a dunce. It could 
not be denied that there was something in him ; but there 
was a general reluctance to allow that he knew anything of 
books. That he could write was demonstrable, and that he 
could read was beyond doubting ; but not much more was 
allowed him in the way of accomplishments. Persons who 
were not themselves acquainted with Italian, as was amply 
proved by the blunders they committed in discussing the 
matter, easily convinced themselves and their disciples that 
Shakespeare was quite innocent of that language. ' And so 
with regard to French, it was thought absurd to believe that 
he had any knowledge of French ; though to be sure there 
is in several of his plays an appearance of some knowledge 
of it, Of all symptoms of such a knowledge it was not 
difficult to dispose by the theory that he had a friend who 
had enjoyed superior advantages, and could readily inform 
him what was the equivalent for "finger " and " hand " and 
so forth. As to Latin, the University men rather resented 
the notion that he could read his Ovid \xx the original. 
Shakespeare might have studied and interpreted nature with- 
remarkable success ; but art and the great works of art were 
out of his line. Certainly there were endless signs in his 
writing that their author was possessed of some Latinity : 
but what arguments are considerable when the case is pre- 


judged ? To entertain for a moment the idea that he was 
in the slightest possible degree a Greek scholar would have 
been held the mere wildness of phantasy. It was even 
maintained that his knowledge of his native tongue was un- 
sound and blundering. In all these respects the views of 
Shakespearian criticism have materially changed. An un- 
biassed inspection of the facts has produced a tendenjcy to 
believe that Shakespeare was not after all such an utter 
ignoramus. Scholars of note have found reasons for con- 
cluding that he had some acquaintance with both Italian 
and F.rench, and that 5en Jonson's famous line — 

" And thojigh thou hadst small Latin and less Greek — " 

is entirely decisive evidence that his attainments in what are 
specially called the classical tongues were of an appreciable 
amount, considering how high was the learned Ben's standard, 
and what therefore his " small " would represent. As to 
English, it has been made now fairly clear that if Shake- 
speare knew nothing of that tongue, the whole Elizabethan 
age was in a like condition ; as what were noted as the 
signs of his ignorance are found to be not peculiarities of 
Shakespeare's style, but common characteristics of our 
language in the Tudor times. 

We do not propose to enter here upon the general question. 
All that we wish now to do is to point out two or three pos- 
sible or probable instances of Shakespeare's knowledge of 
Greek ; though indeed to set forth anything new regarding 
our great master is a rare achievement, and it may perhaps 
turn out that some lynx-eyed commentator has anticipated 
every observation we pr'opose to make. We wish to con- 
sider certain Greek names that are used by Shakespeare. 

We may remark, in passing, that Shakespeare's nomen- 
clature presents a subject for study that has by no means 



yet received the attention it deserves. ' He is never merely 
servile in following his originals in this particular ; but exer- 
cises a remarkable independence, sometimes simply adopt- 
ing, sometimes slightly varying, sometimes wholly rejecting 
the names he found in them. It is difficult to imagine that 
this conduct was merely arbitrary and careless. Euphony 
must of course have had its influence; often there must 
have occurred other considerations of no trifling interest, if 
only we could discover and understand them. A singular 
instance of a complete re-christening is to be found in The 
Winter's Tale, The material of this play is, as is well 
known, Robert Greene's Dorastus and Faunia, Here are 
the two name-lists : — 

The Novel. The Play, 

. The Novel, 

The Play, 

Pandosto = Polixenes. 

Gaviftter = 


Egistus = Leontes. 

Dorastus = 


Bellaria = Hermione. 

Faunia = 


Franion = Camillo. 

In the older Ifamlet — in the 1603 4to. — Polonius is called 
Corambis, Corambus in the German Play printed by Mr. 
Albert Cohn ; Claudius in the German Play is Erico. Com- 
paring As You Like It with its original — Lodge's Euphue^ 
Golden Legacie — in this respect, we find no trace of Jaques 
and Touchstone either in name or personality ; the Orlando 
we know so well is the development of a certain Rosader ; 
Oliver, Orlando's brother, is Saladyne ; Celia is Alinda ; but 
the names Aliena, Phoebe, Ganymede, Adam, are taken 
from Lodge without alteration But we cannot here attempt 
the investigiation of this question. We will only say that 
we believe that from a thorough scrutiny of it some valuable 
light might be cast upon Shakespeare and his art. 

To turn to our special business in this paper : some of 


the most noticeable Greek names used by Shakespeare 
are Apemantus, Sycorax, Autolycus, Desdemona — through 
the Italian, possibly Ophelia. Every one of these namies, 
except perhaps Sycorax, was adopted by Shakespeare from 
some older work ; but what we wish to point out is the full 
intelligence and mastery of their sense and associations 
with which he uses them. 

Of the name Ophelia Mr. Ruskin has spoken with much 
ingenuity. He considers it to be the Greek w0£\/a, " help," 
and in its application to Polonius's daughter to have an 
ironical force. In one point of view Ophelia was the cause 
of the terrible tragedy, in whose wild current she herself too 
was swept away. She by her weakness, as Lady Macbeth 
by her strength, spread destruction round about her. Not 
that one is to blame ber; she acts according to her nature 
and capacity, and she can do no more. But it is piteous 
and dreadful to see how vainly her lover turns towards her 
for sympathy and succour. More than once, with his faith 
in humanity well nigh prostrate and all his powers unstrung 
by suspicion and doubt and despair, he wduldfain find in her 
some high restorative of belief and confidence — some divine 
elixir to make life livable ; he would fain find help, but help 
for him there is none. The name she bears then may con- 
tain in it an awful irony. And this Shakespeare may have 
perceived and felt and acknowledged, — Hamlet yiz.% certainly 
written in a period of his life when for some reason or 
another his soul was vexed and embittered within him, — ' 
although he did not create the name. It was his character- 
istic to see the significance of things just as they were put 
.before him, instead of re-arranging them in order to express 
some nieaning he might wish to give them. That he found 
the nanle in the older play — the play referred to by Nash in 
his Preface to Greene's Menaphon in 1587, and mentioned 


in Henslowe's Diary in 1594 — we can scarcely doubt. It 
does not occur in The Hysiorie of Hamblety -the trans- 
lation from Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques^ which itself 
derived the story from the Historia Danica of Saxo Gram- 
maticus, though there is a curious mention in it of a lady 
employed to corrupt Hamlet, who, however, informed him 
of the treason, " as being one that from her infancy loved 
and favoured him." In the 1603 4to. it appears as Ofelia \ 
the German pjay has it in the shape that is familiar to 

A play, remarkable for its Greek nomenclature, is the 
Winter's Tale, already mentioned on another account — 
remarkable because there is little in the original to suggest 
or encourage such Hellenism ; see the list given above. To . 
the Greek names there recorded may be added, Antigonus, 
Cleomenes, Archidamus, Dion, Autolycus, and Dorcas. We 
may observe that all these names, except perhaps Dorcas 
and Leontes, are found in Plutarch's Lives. We will say a 
few words about Autolycus. 

Both the character and the name are entirely of Shake- 
speare's invention. Whence came this prince of pedlars and 
of pickpockets ? No doubt the man had in some sort been 
espied and watched by him who has painted him for all 
time — at some Stratford wake, when Mr. Shakespeare of 
New Place was taking Mistress Susanna and her sister 
.Judith to see what" was to be seen ; or at. Bartholomew Fair, 
as he strolled through it perchance with Mr. Benjamin 
Jonson ; but what a name to give him ! Yet it was care- 
fully chosen. There was an ancient thief of famous memory 
called Autolycus. His name probably is significant of his 
nature. It should mean All-wolf, Very-wolf, Wolfs-self. 
See Hom. Od, xix. 392-8, where the old nurse Eurukleia is 
bathing the feet of the not yet identified Odusseus : 


NTjc ^' Ojo' Jffffov iovoa ava^ff eov' avTiKa d* lyina 
opXriv' Tr}v icoTk fiiv avg rjXatrs XtVKf hhovri 
JIapvri<r6vS* iXOovra fitr' Ai&roXw/coi/ « Koi vlaQ, 
firirpbg kr}g irarkp s<t9X6v, 8g AvOp^jTrovg iKBKcurTO 
KXeTTTOtrvvy 9\ Spicy te' 6ebg'S6 oi ahrbg iSwKtv . 
'Epfidag' ry ydp KtxcLpitrfikva firjpia Koiev 
iipvSyv i^d* ipHpaiv' 6 Be oi Trpo^ptov lift diniB&i, 

Here is Chapman's rendering of the passage, published in 
i6i6,.but, probably enough, read and known in a certain 
circle some years before. As the old servant bathes her 
sovereign's feet she observes the scar— 

" Which witness'd by her eye 
Was straight approv'd. He first received this sore 
As in Parnassus' tops a white-tooth'd boar 
He stood in chase withal, who strook him there 
At such time as he lived a sojourner 
With his grandsire Autolycus ; who th' art . 
Of theft and swearing (not out of the heart 
But by equivocation) first adorn*d 
Your witty man withal, and was suborn'd' 
By Jove's descent, ingenious Mercury, 
Who did bestow it, since so many a thigh 
Of lambs and kids he had on him bestow'd 
In sacred flames ; who therefore when he vow'd 
Was ever with him." 

Let us notice, by the way, that curious addition Chapman 
makes — " not out of the heart, but by equivocation " — which 
thqre is nothing whatever in the Greek to justify. Evidently 
the Englishman with his ideas of truth telling, did not appre- 
ciate, or understand, the Greek hivorrigy " awful cleverness," 
"sharpness," "subtlety." Again, EKiKaaro does not mean 
"adorn'd," but "surpassed." In the following lines the 
"descent" seems, to mean descendant, son: "Jove's de- 
scent " is Chapman's equivalent for Bebg avrog. Turn from 
the Odyssey to the Winter's Tale, " My traffic is, sheets," 
says the worthy prig-pedlar; "when the kite builds, look 


to lesser linen. My father named me Autolycus, who being, 
as I am, litter'd under Mercury, was likewise a snapper up 
of unconsidered trifles." We will add that the statement 
made in the latter sentence about his father, must surely be 
connected with what Autolycus is said by Ovid to have been 
—patricB non degener artis ; see the eleventh book of the 
Metamorphoses^ where is narrated the birth of our light- 
fingered friend— /urtum ingeniosus ad omne. Another point 
of contact between Shakespeare's rogue and the ancient one, 
is that both have a ready gift of self-transformation. The 
ancient is said to have had the power of metamorphosis. 
And so, in the Winter's T.ale^ the rogue often changes his 
part. He appears as a shabby, ci-devant valet — which he is, 
as the denuded victim, of thieves, as a most successful 
pedlar, as a courtier, and lastly as a fawning and servile 

The name Desdemona claims a few wprds. In the 
narrative upon which Othello is certainly founded (Heca- 
tommithiy Decad. III. Nov. 7), — ^whether Shakespeare read 
. it-in the original or a translation must, remain an open ques- 
tion, the more probable answer at present being that he \ 
read it in the Italian — that, as Mr. Collier points out, is . \ 
the only name introduced by Cinthio. In Cinthio's novel 
Othello is " the Moor," Cassio " the lieutenant " (il capo di 
squadrone), lago "the ensign" or "ancient" (ralfiero). 
There can be little doubt, we presume, that the name Desde- 
mona is from the Greek Ivalai^utiVy " ill-starred," and its sin- 
gular fitness for the unfortunate woman who bears it will need 
no assertion for those who. really know the play. Amongst 
all Shakespeare's heroines she is emphatically // lvalai\ntiv^ 
" the ill-starred one." So lovely, so loving, so accomplished, 
and true and pure, yet perishing so miserably ! " Oh, the 
world hath not a sweeter creature; she might lie by an 


emperor's side and. command him tasks. ... An admirable 
musician ; oh, €he will sing the savageness out of a bear ; of 
so high and plenteous wit and invention. . . . And, then, 
of so gentle a condition ! " " Ay, too gentle," says Evil in- 
carnate in the shape of lago. . " Nay, that's certain," replies 
the poor victim ; " but yet the pity of it^ lago ! O lago, the 
pity of it, lago ! " For the most part Shakespeare delights 
in tracing the action of the great moral laws of the world, and 
showing how fearful is the penalty of transgression — how, as 
. -^schylus has it — 

H ng 'AiroXXwv 
. ff H&v ri Zeijg .... 
• . • . 

irsfiTTH TTOpafidmv *Epivvv, 

But sometimes he exhibits a yet more dreadful spectacle — a 
spectacle mysterious, inscrutable, soul-prostrating. It is 
Fate blind, inexorable, rapacious. Desdemona is one of 
Fate's choicest victims. Her "graces serve" her "but as 
enemies." Her very virtues bring on her ruin. What is 
most innocent is construed into evidence against her. In 
obeying the best instincts of her clear* spirit she excites the 
e vilest suspicions and secures the bitterest condemnation. 
The truth from her lips is turned into a lie. In the last Act, 
when Othello charges her with unfaithfulness, her answers, 
by an almost incredible infelicity, are, through the very purity 
of her nature, just such as to confirm his detestable impeach- 
ment. " Let him confess the truth," she says of Cassio and 
the handkerchief. 

"(9M. He hath confessed. 
Des, What, my lord ? 
Otk. That he hath— us'd thee. 
Des, How? unlawfully? 
O^A, Ay. 


Da. He will no( Say sq. 

0th. No, hU mouth is stopp'd ; 

Honest lago halfa la'en oi&ex for't. 
T>i!. O 1 my fear interprets ; what, is he dead ? 
Otk. Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge 

Had Stomach for them all. 
Dt!. Alas \ be is betray'd, and I undone. 
Oth, Out, slrampet ! weep'st Ihou for him to my face ? 
Des. O, banish me, my lord, but l(ill me not !" 

Could replies be more unfortunate ? She lies in the toils 
of Fate, and there is no escape for her. " But yet the pity 
of it, lago ! O lago, the pity of it, lago I" We said that this 
name is from the Greek Sfo-^a/^tuv, " ill-starred ; " but we 
may go further and say it is merely a variation of ivtrSaifiorla, 
*' iU-slarredness." She is not only unhappy, she is unhappi- 
ness itself. It should be remembered that in the Italian the 
name is Desd^mona, not Desdemona. 

Let us now turn to a name of a very different interest — to 
Sycorax. The name Caliban is, it is fairly certain, a mere 
metathesis of Cannibal, which is itself a corruption of Cari- 
bale, of which the English form is Caribbee. The name of 
" my dam's God " is found in Eden's History of TravayU, in 
ao account of the capture of two Patagooians : " When they 
felt the shackles fast about their legs, they began to doubt ; 
but the captain did put them in comfort and bade them stand 
still. In fine, when they saw how they were deceived, they 
roared like bulls, and cried upon their great devil Setebos to 
help them." Ariel— in the first folio the words " an ayrie 
spirit" stand opposite the name in the list of characters — is 
an old title used in a new sense. In Heywood's Hierarckie 
of Ike BUaed Angtlsy Ariel is the " Earth's great Lord ; " and 
the word, as Hunter suggested, may be the same as occurs 
in Isaiah xxiv. 1, 2, and 7, where Jerusalem is so called. 

Krax is, we believe, of Shakespeare's own formation. At 

114 FSS4 rS A^VD XOTES. 

all ercnts thb nzzne has not TCt been foond occurrent else- 
where. And ve think the cxmjectine that it is compounded 
of the Gfe^L #»r ( vc is a Taziant) and cojpa^ and is therefore 
a coDtractioo of SyokfHax, can scaicdj be despised. As 
both sows and laTccs are associated with witchcraft and such 
superstitions^ the compoond m^t s^ve not ill to denomi- 
nate that "• fool witch * ( Tamfesf^ i. iii. 258), " damned 
witch " {lb. 263), ** blne-Cjred hag " {lb. 268), of whose " mis- 
chief manifold and sofcoies tenible to enter human hear- 
ing," and ^eaithhr and abhoiied commands," and "most 
unmitigable rage," Prospeio speaks with such genuine 
loathing. Notice Caliban's opening curse : — 

" As wk^ed dew as e'er my mother brush'd 
With raoa^s feather from uiwfaoles(Mne f<m 
Drop on yoa both ! " 

In Other plays we find such phrases as " the hateful raven," 
" the fatal raven," " the croaking raven doth bellow for re- 
venge" {HamUij iii. ii. 265) : 

" O it comes o'er my memory 
As doth the raven o*er the infected house 
Boding to all." Otfullo^ iv. i. 20. 

'* The raven himself is hoarse 
That croaks the fatal entrance of Doncan 
Under my battlements. " Macbeth, I. v. 39. 

Other illustrations old and new might easily be given. Poe's 
description of this bird in his well-known poem will occur to 
every reader : — 

"Ghastly, grim, and ancient Raven, wandering from the nightly shore." 

"This grim, migainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore." 

** * Prophet ! * said I, * thing of evil ! prophet still, if bird or devil.'" 

For the sow, it is not mentioned, indeed, by Caliban 


among his mother's " charms," — " toads, beetles, bats," — 
but into that foul caldron, whose ingredients are catalogued 
in Macbethy the first witch bids also — 

" Pour in sov/s blood, that hath eaten 
Her nine farrow." 

Or the mere" grossness of the one animal and the supposed 
malignity of the other may be referred to ; and so the name 
Sycorax be designed to express a horrid mixture of those 
two characteristics — something bestial and fiendish withal. 
" With age and envy " she " was grown into a hoop." She 
had almost lost what human form she once had, and ap- 
proached in semblance the brute whose nature she shared; 
Prospero speaks of — 

" The son that she did litter here, 

A freckled whelp hag-born, not honour'd with 

A human shape." 

The last name we shall notice is Apemantus in Timon of 
Athens. This name is not found in Barckley's Discourse of 
the Felicity of Man^ but is so in the novel in Painter's Palace 
of Pleasure y which treats ** of the straunge and beastlie nature 
of Timon of Athens, enemie to mankinde, with his death, 
buriall, and epitaph." It was no doubt also observed in 
North's translation of Amyot's translation of PlutarcNs Life 
of Antonine, All that Plutarch says of Apemantus is com- 
prised in these sentences, here quoted from North's ver- 
sion : — 

" Apemantus, wondering at it [his shunning * all other 
men's companies but the company of young Alcibiades, a 
bold and insolent youth, whom he would greatly feast, and 
make much of, and kissed him very gladly ' — ricnrdi^eTo kui 
KaT€<l>(\Bi xpo9v/Lca»c], asked him the cause and what he meant, 
to make so much of that young man alone, and to hate all 



others. Timon answered him, * I do it/ said he, * because I 
know that one day he shall do great mischief unto the Athe- 
nians.' This Timon sometimes would have Apemantus in 
his company, because he was much like of his nature and 
his conditions, and also followed him in manner of life. On 
a time when they solemnly celebrated the feasts called Choae 
of Athens (to wit, the feasts of the dead, when they make 
sprinklings and sacrifices for the dead), and that they two 
then feasted together by themselves, Apemantus said unto 
the other : * O here is a trim banquet, Timon.' Timon an- 
swered again, * yea,' said he, * so thou wert not here.' (Tov 
^ *ATrr}fidyTOV i^riaavTOQ ' a»c icaXov, S liifiuv^ to trvjjnrdaioy 
7//ibiv, tiyt trv, t<l>rf, * ^^ iraptiQ, ) 

It will be allowed that there is little here to suggest the 
characterization we find in Shakespeare's play. It may justly 
be said that that characterization is in accordance with that 
rule of contrast which the great dramatist so commonly ob- 
serves. It was obvious to develop Apemantus into the 
affected, self-conscious, egotistic cynic whose bitterness 
should by its very shallowness make the unfathomed in- 
dignation of the genuine misanthrope more effectively felt 
Apemantus is an impostor. He professes to loathe his kind, 
and yet is always intruding himself into its society. He 
cannot understand the genuine feeling of which his spiteful- 
ness is a mere simulation — the " saeva indignatio " quae cor 
lacerat. When he hears of Timon's withdrawal into the cave 
near the seashore, he thinks that Timon too is acting a part. 
He has not sensibility enough to be a good hater — a thorough 
man-hater. " Men report," he says to one whom he regards 
as a sort of would-be rival in his line of ferocity — 

**Men report 
Thou dost affect my manners, and dost use them." 

The grand distinction between the two characters springs 


from the fact, that the one is a man of noble nature whose 
trast in humanity has been rudely dethroned ; the other, a 
man of an inferior breed, that has not ever known anything 
of sympathy and affection. Timon's hate is so pathetic and 
so terrible, because he has loved, if not wisely, yet too well. 
There is no denying that he is " more sinned against than 
sinning " — ^that he is dreadfully wronged ; and one cannot 
wonder, if with his ill-balanced temperament he rushes into 
the furthest extremes of acrimony and loathing. But Ape- 
mantus has no such right to be savage ; he can bring no 
such justifying accusation against the world; he is more 
sinning than sinned against. 

" Fie, thou art a churl : yeVe got a humour there 
Does not become a man : 'tis much to blame." 

Now, what we have specially to point out, is the curious 
way in which his very name is indication of the fact that, as 
compared with Timon and whatever license to curse Timon 
may claim, he is without a grievance, — is an unwronged man. 
This is exactly what his name means. It is the Greek 
diTfifAavTOQ, meaning literally " un-hurt " — a word, as we learn 
from Liddell and Scott, used by Homer, Od, xix. 282 ; by 
Pindar, OL viii. end. : 

dXX' dirfifiavTOv dywv jSioTOv 
airrovQ t* ds^oi Kai ttSXiv — 

and iEschylus, Agdm, 378. A noticeable coincidence, and 
of use for the comprehension of the play, if indeed it is not 
something more. Let us now read Timon's own analysis of 
Apemantus : — 

"Thou art a slave, whom Fortune's tender arm 

With favour never clisp'd, but bred a dog. 

Hadst thou, like us, from the first swath, proceeded 


The sweet degrees that this brief world affords 
To such as may the passive drugs of it 
. Freely command, thou wouldst have plunged thyself 
In general riot ; melted down thy youth 
In different beds of lust ; and never leam'd 
The icy precepts of respect, but follow 'd 
The sugar'd game before thee. But myself, 
Who had the world as my confectionary — 
The mouths, the tongues, the eyes and hearts of men 
At duty, more than I could frame employment ; 
That numberless upon me stuck, as leaves 
Do on the oak, have with one winter's brush 
Fell from their boughs, and left me open, bare 
For every storm that blows ; — I, to bear this, 
That never knew but better, is some burden. 
Thy nature did commence in sufferance ; time 
Hath made thee hard in it. Why shoiddst thou hate men ? 
They never flattered thee: what hast thou given ? " 

In Macbeth the " second murderer " describes himself 
thus : — 

" I am one, my liege. 
Whom the vile blows and buffets of the world 
Have so incensed that I am reckless what 
I do to spite the world." 

We might call him Pemantus, if there were such a word in 
the Greek language, which there is not. At all events, he 
makes exactly intelligible what the name Apemantus may 

To conclude these remarks, we think it would be rash in- 
deed to infer from such considerations as we have laid before 
our readers that Shakespeare was a Greek scholar of any 
great pretensions. There is nowadays so much wild theo- 
rizing about Shakespeare — ^gentlemen who seem scarcely to 
have read his works through are so ready with their inestim- 
able decisions — that we wish to keep well within the limits 
of our facts. It cannot be demonstratively shown that 


Shakespeare was conscious of the curious significancies we 
have discussed. " Beware instinct. . . . Instinct is a great 
matter." All we wish to suggest is a probability in some 
cases that he may have been so. But, even if so much can- 
not be conceded us, we venture to hope that the few remarks 
we have made may be not useless for the better understand- 
ing of the masterpieces they concern. 




(From the Athetueum, Aug. 21, 1875.) 

MR. HAZLITT, whose name is conspicuous by its ab- 
sence from the title-pages of the work before us, but 
appears on the label attached to the back of each volume, 
can only be described as an editor by some oxymoron. Some 
such interdiscordant phrase as the Greek tragedians so fre- 
quently employ naturally rises to one's lips as one thinks of 
him, or sees a fresh exhibition of his workmanship. He is an 
" editor that is no editor." To every lover of old books he is 
dear, and at the same time detestable ; always welcome, and 
as often ill-come ; not to be done without, and yet to be per- 
petually grumbled at. The critic, in judging of this gentle- 
man, can take his stand, so to speak, neither on the moun- 
tain of blessing nor that of cursing — neither on Gerizim nor 
Ebal ; but, if this is anyhow possible, must plant a foot on 
either eminence, and smile and scowl alternately. Mr. Haz- 
litt has, indeed, done for all students of English literature 
excellent service in bringing back within reach works that 
have become inaccessible, and we sincerely hope he will not 
desist from his labours. On the other hand, how greatly 
the value of this service would be increased by a little more 
editorial care ! We would rather, if we may say so, he would 
do less for us, and do what he does better. If he would once 
permit us to take up one of his reprints with unmixed satis- 
faction ! The work before us exactly illustrates what we 
have just said. ' It is a " boon," but a " boon " we shall never 


enjoy without some regret and annoyance. We think every 
genuine student of Shakespeare should possess himself of it j 
and yet, 

"Medio de fonle leporum, 
Surgit amari aliquid." 

Let us first notice the " anaari aliquid," and then the 
" lepores." The first volume opens in this wise : it begins 
with a list of the plays whose sources, or supposed sources, 
are presented in it ; then comes Mr. Collier's preface to the 
first edition (1844), then a preface by Mr. HazHtt himself, 
which is principally curious as showing his own incertitude 
as to what should and what should not be added to his pre- 
decessor's collection ; then a " synthetical table of contents " 
of the entire work ; and then we come to the main body— to 
the play-sources arranged, or thrown together in an " ad- 
mired disorder." The best order, surely, in such a work as 
this would have been the alphabetical ; at all events, some 
order should have been observed. The succession Mr. 
Hazlitt professes " in the main " to follow, he " in the main " 
disregards. These opening pages, especially the editor's 
preface, have their significance. There was some truth in 
the old superstition about stumbling on the threshold. We 
are prepared for what is the fact— a compilation of an uncer- 
tain kind. We do not know what we may find in it, and 
what we may not find. The first extract— it is from Johnes's 
Monstrekt — given in "pursuance of a suggestion found 
in Dyce's edition of Shakespeare "■ — language somewhat mis- 
leading—is supposed to illustrate Love's Labour's Lost, but 
how it does so one cannot readily see. To be sure it men- 
tions a sum of money to be paid by a king of France to a 
king of Navarre ; and in the play there is mention of a 
money transaction between kings of those countries ; but all 
e details are quite different. " There is a river in Macedon, 


and there is also, moreover, a river in Monmouth ; it is called 
Wye at Monmouth, but it is out of my prains what is the 
name of the other river j but 'tis all one, 'tis alike as my 
fingers is to my fingers, and there is salmons in both." In 
connection with the Midsummer Nights Dream, we are 
favoured with the Life of Theseus from North's Plutarch^ 
though certainly Shakespeare derived the Theseus of that 
play mainly from Chaucer's Knighfs Tale, For the Comedy 
of Errors is given " W. W.'s" — Warner's — translation of the 
MefUBchmiy printed in 1595, though Shakespeare's play, if 
not produced so early as 1589, as some good scholars hold, 
yet unquiestionably came out before 1595, and no one has 
shown any reason for supposing that Shakespeare had the 
benefit of perusing Wamer?s version before its publication. 
One might think, to listen to some people, that the Eliza- 
bethan age had its Mudie, with a circulating library of new 
and entertaining MSS. ; moreover, there is that important 
entry in the Gesta Grayorum^ 1594 : — 

" After such sports, a Comedy of Errors (like to Plautus 
his Menechmus) was played by the players ; so that night 
was begun and continued to the end in nothing but con- 
fusion and errors ; whereupon it was ever afterwards called 
the Night of Errors." 

After the Mencechmi, which Shakespeare may have read in 
the original Latin, Mr. Hazlitt presents us with The Story 
of the Two Brothers of Avignon^ from Goulart's Admirable 
and Memorable Histories, These histories were published 
in 1607 1 "Possibly the story, which is printed from Goulart 
here, may have been seen by him in some earlier publica- 
tion." Sucli a meagre possibility scarcely justifies Mr. Haz- 
litt in giving Goulart a place on Shakespeare's shelves. At 
this rate Shakespeare's library must have been of quite extra- 
ordinary dimensions. That he had read the Amphitruo 


seems to us really more probable. Under the head of 
Merchant of Venice is printed a ballad called The Northern 
Lord, which the editor allows was in all likelihood never 
beheld by Shakespeare, and " was even (almost to a cer- 
tainty) later than his day " ! In the same way, under 
another head, he bestows upon us the ballad of Lear and 
his Three Daughters, Whether Gemutus has any right to be 
included in these volumes is uncertain, and Mr. Hazlitt may 
have the benefit of the doubt. As to the various tales printed 
in the section devoted to The Merry Wives of Windsor, they 
would all be rightly placed in a work designed to illustrate 
Shakespeare ; but it is another thing to print them as his 
originals. At the close of the list we have " The first Sketch 
of the Play," i,e, a reprint of the quarto of 1602. Que diable 
allait-il faire dans cette gaiere ? Why have we not, then, the 
1603 Hamlet, or the 1597 Richard ILL, ? It will be noticed 
that Mr. Hazlitt adheres to Mr. HalliwelFs view as to the 
t6o2 edition of the Merry Wives, The 1603 Hamlet, on 
the other hand, he regards as a pirated copy ; but this by 
the way. To glance at other parts of these volumes, the 
Measure for Measure section contains a story fi-om the 
histories of Gk)ulart, already mentioned as published in 
1607. Troilus and Cressida has no originals quoted for it, 
though if Mr. Hazhtt was at all consistent he should have 
quoted Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida, inasmuch as he 
quotes the Knighfs Tale in connection with the Two Noble 
Kinsmen! For Cymbeline we are supplied with a copy 
of the Story of the Fishwife of Standon-the-Green from 
Westward for Smelts, 1620 ! But signal as are other of Mr. 
Hazlitt's achievements in this direction, his crowning exploit, 
we think, is quoting the Life of Pericles from North's 
Plutarch to illustrate the play of Pericles, Tyre is as Athens 
to Mr. Hazlitt. After this remarkable feat, we really do not 


see why he has stopped an)nvhere. Why not reprint all 
Plutarch ? Why not Elizabethan literature as a whole ? 
Why not all literature ? 

It will be by this time abundantly clear to our readers that 
the title of this work is by no means particularly accurate. 
In fiact, Mr. Hazlitt rather reminds us of Juvenal : 

" Quicquid agunt homines .... 

nostri est farrago libelli. " 

Nor can we say that the details of the editing are emi- 
nently praiseworthy. The texts given can, indeed, boast of 
an accuracy superior* to that displayed in Mr. Collier's 
volumes. Mr. Collier speaks frankly enough oh the subject 
in his preface : 

" The editor has had time to do little more than to afford 
a general superintendence, and to preface the introductory 
notices : the intelligent publisher, who has devoted so much 
time and study to Shakespearian literature, has often saved 
him the trouble of searching materials in public and private 
depositories, and of collating the reprints with the originals. 
For this part of the task, therefore, Mr. Rodd is re- 

Similarly, Mr. Hazlitt had to thank Mr. B. J. JefTery, of 
the Department of Manuscripts, British Museum. "Mr. 
Jeffery verified for me a large proportion of the texts intro- 
duced here, and the volumes owe to him the correction of 
innumerable errors in the former edition." In a note to the 
Ta/e of the Fishwife of Brentford it is said that " the text 
exhibited by Mr. Halliwell is not true to the original" — 
words that leave an impression somewhat unjust to Mr. 
Halliwell. But beyond this textual carefulness — which, how- 
ever, is a great matter — ^little or nothing is done. Mr. 
Hazlitt's notes are " few and far between," but they cannot 


on that account be likened to " angels' visits." The metrical 
arrangement is not always exact — e.g,, we find these lines 
printed as prose (Part II., voU i., p. 312) — 

" Pleaseth your Grace the Earle of Salsbury, 
Penbroke, Essex, Clare, and Arundell, 
With all the Barons that did fight for thee, 
Are on a sodeine fled with all their powers 
To joyne with John to drive thee back againe." 

If this is prose, what then is " metre " or " measure " ? 

Tk^ Taming of the Shrew is mentioned as the Taming of a 
Shrew. Surely Mr. Hazlitt knows the importance of the 
article here ? In another place he speaks of ^^The Life of 
Timon by North." 

Having pointed out some of the shortcomings and re- 
dundances of this misnamed work — why not call it Mr. 
Hazlitt's Library, or, indefinitely. Somebody's Library, or, 
better, Nobody's Library ? — ^we may dwell with pleasure on 
its merits. We may remove the foot from Ebal— the atti- 
tude we described is something fatiguing, — and stand at ease 
on the cheerfuUer height. 

We think it is a very great advantage to have so much of 
Shakespeare's undoubted material placed within general 
reach. Mr. Hazlitt here combines, with additions, two 
books of extreme value to the student — Mr. Collier's work, 
already several times mentioned, and Steevens's Six Old 
Plays. It is nearly a century since the latter compila- 
tion was issued — more than a generation since the former 
appeared — and both are very rare. Now to those who really 
care to study Shakespeare, and not merely to talk and dog- 
matize about him, while they know little or nothing of the 
subject — ^we are overrun with such persons — the reprinting 
of two such compilations is no small blessing. Obviously 
one of the very best ways of estimating Shakespeare is fur- 


nished by an acquaintance with the material that he had to 
use and used. Common enough clay this was, and yet 
starting up at his wondrous touch into the most exquisite, 
various, substantial forms of life. Two things are notice- 
able : (i) the fidelity with which at times he, followed his 
originals, and (2) the subtlety with which, even as he follows 
them with such humble faithfulness, they are transformed 
and ennobled. What inscrutable magic ! The words seem 
all the same, and yet a new life breathes out of them. The 
voice is Shakespeare's voice ; but the hands are the hands of 
Plutarch, or Greene, or Lodge. It has often been remarked 
how closely Shakespeare follows North in Julius Ccesar and 
in Antony and Cleopatra^ especially in the famous passage 
describing the " gypsey's " progress along the Cydrius. A 
not less memorable instance is to be found in Coriolanus. 
Here is North's version of a part of Volumnia's speech, when 
the mother kneels before the son, whose pride and obstinacy, 
amazing as they are to her, are yet fruit she has herself 
planted and nurtured ; — 

" Then she spake in this sort : If we held our peace (my 
Sonne) and determined not to speake, the state of our poor 
bodies, and present sight of our raiment would easily bewray 
to thee what life we have led at home, since thy exile and 
abode abroad ; but think now with thyselfe, how much more 
unfortunately then all the women living, we are come hither, 
considering that the sight which should be most pleasant to 
all other to behold, spitefull fortune hath made most feare- 
full to us : making my selfe to see my sonne, and my daughter 
here, her husband, besieging the walles of his native coun- 
trey : so as that which is the onely comfort to all other in 
their adversitie and miserie, to pray unto the Gods and to 
call to them for aide is the onely thing which plungeth us 
into most deep perplexitie," &c. (Part I., vol. iii., p. 304). 


One cannot wonder that a speech, spoken so simply, so 
truly, so pathetically, should have had attractions for Shake- 
speare. He appropriates it not only in substance, but often 
verbatim^ yet with such changes as make it a new thing. A 
minute study of such appropriations, of the rejection^, the 
expansions, the additions — a study not yet made as far as 
we know — could not fail to cast light upon the secrecies of 
his art. Of course, in the instance we are considering, the 
metrification, if we may use the word — " metrify " is used — 
accounts for something of the new effect, but by no means 
for all of it. The mere rhetoric is improved and refined ; 
but what is most remarkable is the transference of the whole 
scene into a new air; we are insensibly.bome away into that, 
strange, delightful, inexplicable land, the land of "poetry." 
Here is the passage as it rises from the hands of the 
master : — 

** Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment 

And state of bodies would bewray what life 

We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself 

How more unfortunate than all living women 

Are we come hither, since that thy sight, which should 

Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts, 

Constrains them weep, and shake with fear and sorrow ; 

Making the mother, wife, and child to see 

The son, the husband, and the father tearing 

His country's bowels out. And to poor we 

Thine enmity's most capital ; thou barr'st 

Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort 

That all but we enjoy," &c. 

What Dry den says of Ben Jonson might better be said of 
Shakespeare : " He invades authors like a monarch, and 
what would be theft in other poets is only victory in him." 
Assuredly, the extent of such invasions is at first sight sur- 
prising. In this respect, the second part of Mr. Hazlitt's 
collection is the more interesting, though we must not forget 


Euphue^ Golden Legacy y in the second volume of Part I. 
The second part contains, besides other pieces, The True 
Tragedie of Richard the Thirds The Troublesome Raigne of 
John King of Englandy The Famous Victories of Henry Fifthy 
The First Part of the Contention of the Two Famous Houses 
of York and Lancaster, The True Tragedie *of Richard Duke 
of Yorky The Historie of Promos and Cassandra, The Tnu 
Chronicle Historie of King L^ir and his Three Daughters, The 
Taming of a Shrew. To appreciate adequately the splendour 
of Shakespeare's genius, these specimens of the drama as he 
found it should be carefully read and compared with the 
drama which he created. Justly might he have adapted and 
adopted Augustus's boast as to the city he had renewed and 
beautified. " Urbem," writes Suetonius, " neque pro majes- 
tate imperii ornatam et inundationibus incendiisque ob- 
noxiam, excoluit adeo ut jure sit gloriatus marmoream se 
relinqu^re quam latericiam acctpissit.^^ 




(From the AthetKEum^ July 12, 1879.) 

THIS is a very different key from that with which, ac- 
cording to Wordsworth, Shakespeare "unlocked his 
heart." It is described on the title-page as " Unlocking the 
treasures of his style, elucidating the peculiarities of his 
construction, and displaying the beauties of his expression, 
forming a companion to * The Complete Concordance to 
Shakespeare.' " 

These bold promises are fairly justified by the volume. 
It is a worthy addition to the many useful labours for which 
the world is indebted to its veteran authors, only one of 
whom, alas, has lived to see its publication. It does not 
profess to give any new discoveries or bring out any new 
principle of interpretation. There is little or nothing in it 
that has not been suggested or said before in some sort 
somewhere. It is a compilation, but a compilation made 
with much intelligence and showing wide reading and various 

"A peculiar advantage possessed by the present work," 
says the preface, " is that it places collectively before the eye 
comparative evidence heretofore scattered in notes, glossaries, 
and other forms of animadversion on Shakespeare's style ; 
so that it may be seen at one view how he uses the same 
word or form of expression, and thus frequently becomes an 

' By Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke. (Sampson Low and Co.) 



interpreter to himself. Consequently *The Shakespeare 
Key ' will aid in determining various disputed readings and 
readings suspected of error, by showing assembled together 
several similar passages to the one in question ; thus afford- 
ing proof of its being in accordance with Shakespeare's 
peculiar style." 

But is not this, the reader will say, just what is already 
done for us by Dr. Alexander Schmidt in his Complete 
Dictionary of all the English Words, Phrases, and Con- 
structions in the Works of the Foetl And it must be 
allowed that in this department of their work Dr. Schmidt is 
a formidable . rival, and one already in possession of the 
field. Indeed, but for his volumes the present would have 
been considerably larger. "While it lay in manuscript," 
says Mrs. Cowden Clarke, "an extremely comprehensive 
lexicon was brought out which included many verbal points, 
amounting to no fewer than 639 pages of written labour." 
Mrs. Clarke certainly did right in cutting out those pages, 
and a yet further excision might have been made. But it 
remains true that her volume is a valuable help to Shake- 
spearian study. 

It consists of upwards of a hundred articles of various 
length and importance. Amongst the subjects are : " Affected 
Use of Words," " Alliteration," " Dramatic Time," " Em- 
phasis," " Idioms," " Legal Phrases," " Pronunciation," " Si- 
miles," "Spelling of Foreign Words," "Technicalities;" 
and on each of these and the other subjects, if no one is 
treated exhaustively, something of interest is noted or 
recorded. The cardinal defect of the compilation is the 
absence of an index, the only clue provided being a table of 
contents, many of the terms of which are not easily intelli- 
gible, or are not altogether differential. Who would feel 
quite sure as to what is meant by " Crossing Speeches," 


" Perfection by Marriage," " Physical Indications," " Power 
in Writing Silence and Perfect Impression through Imperfect 
Expression," "Sentences Spoken as to what might be 
Said " ? What distinction would one expect to be meant 
between "Iterated Words" and "Repeated Words"? 
Other headings are ** Bitter Puns and Plays on Words : 
Conceits," " Ironical Phrases," " Sarcasms," " Peculiar Re- 
plies," " Peculiar Use of Words," " Verbs peculiarly Used." 
Who is sufficient for these things ? The age of the School- 
men is gone, and it is no longer a common faculty to 

" Distinguish and divide 
A hair *twixt south and south-west side." 

It may be doubted whether Touchstone himself, subtle dis- 
criminator as he was between retort and quip and reply and 
reproof and the rest with their proper adjectives, could 
readily decide to which section to turn for some particular 

The great defect of this compilation, then, is the inacces- 
sibility of its details. A key is wanted to the key. In fact, 
there is here a valuable collection of material rather than a 
well-ordered book. It is therefore not likely to be useful in 
the way in which it should be and might be, that is, as a 
work of reference : it rather forms an interesting assemblage 
of Shakespearian notes. In this way it is really valuable, 
and worthy of high recommendation. But the other kind of 
value might so easily have been added. It is to be hoped 
that in a future edition it will be, and so the reader's grati- 
tude may be doubled. Good indexes are becoming, in the 
immense increase of literature, more and more essential ; and 
for this sort of work the importance of an index can scarcely 
be exaggerated. 

Not the least interesting of the many interesting sections 


is that on dramatic time, which works out the theory first 
put forward by the Rev. N. J. Halpin and Prof. Wilson, 
that Shakespeare in some of his plays observes two times, 
both " long " and " short " — represents a considerable 
period as having elapsed during the proceeding of the action, 
and also confines it to the course of a few hours or a day. 
He leaves the impression of a prolonged space, and yet 
crowds his events into the smallest. Thus, in the first three 
acts of Julius Ccesar there are many passages which speak 
as if some appreciable interval had passed between the con- 
versation in which Cassius first tampers with Brutus and the 
soliloquy in which Brutus makes up his mind to join the 
conspirators ; there are others from which we learn that 
that soliloquy is uttered during the very night that followed 
that conversation. And the like is noticeable in many other 
plays. Even in the Tempest^ where the time is limited to 
two or three hours (" Your eld'st acquaintance cannot be 
three hours," says Alonso to Ferdinand when at last they 
are reunited), the impression is left of a much longer period. 
Ferdinand is wrecked, wanders over the island searching 
for his father, falls in love, is " austerely punish'd," i.e. is 
thoroughly tested and tried, is betrothed, has a masque 
performed for his pleasure, and plays chess, all in one 
wonderful afternoon. A strange rush and throng of ex- 
periences ! What are the fewest minutes in which one could 
fall in love and propose, or be proposed to, and arrange 
everything satisfactorily? Of course, we have heard of 
people loving at first sight, but what of proposing at first 
sight? This question of Shakespeare*s dramatic time de- 
serves the attention it is receiving from Shakespearian 
scholars, and the section on it in The Shakespeare Key is 
well worth reading. That his use of two times should be 
merely accidental and careless is an idea scouted, and we 


think justly, by Mr. and Mrs. Clarke ; and an intelligent 
study of it may cast some light on an art which, after all that 
has been said about it, is yet most imperfectly appreciated 
or understood. 

Another extremely interesting section is that headed 
"Technicalities." It gives a capital list, with plentiful 
illustrations from the plays, of the various sports, fashions, 
arts, and sciences whose terminology the poet deigns 
occasionally to borrow. Here are recorded Shakespeare's 
debts to falconry, hunting, archery, war, riding, duelling, 
tilting, seamanship, tennis, heraldry, painting, &c. These 
pages may be worth the perusal of those brilliant critics who, 
because they find Shakespeare familiar with the terms of an 
art or a trade, are so ready to insist that he was, or had been, 
a professor or follower of the said art or trade. He uses 
baking terms, therefore he was a baker. On the strength of 
this section it may be maintained by one of these gentlemen 
that he was a Jack-of-all-trades. Perhaps this is what 
Greene meant by calling him Joannes Factotum. We 
respectfully submit this view to the moths who are always 
hovering around the Shakespearian candle, and are never 
happy till they have scorched themselves in it. 




"translated, with the author's sanction, 
by l. dora schmitz." 

(From the Academy for Oct. 9, 1875.) 

GERMANY is so highly distinguished for its Shake- 
speare studies, and Dr. Elze's name is so well known 
in connection with the German Shakespeare Society, that 
we opened this volume with considerable interest and 
hope ; and we have not been disappointed. It consists of 
nine articles, five discussing certain plays — The Tempest^ A 
Midsummer Ntghfs Dreamy The Merchant of Venice^ AWs 
Well that Ends Well, and Henry VIIL — in certain aspects, 
chronological or material or aesthetic, and three treating 
respectively of" The Supposed Travels of Shakespeare," " Sir 
William Davenant,*' and " The Orthography of Shakespeare's 
Name." On the whole we can recommend the volume, if 
not to all readers, yet to all students of Shakespeare. That 
wonderful being " the general reader " would probably rise 
from its perusal confused and clouded. The interminable 
controversies and seemingly distinctionless differences which 
it indicates or contains would reduce him to a pitiable con- 
dition of utter bewilderment. Chaos would be come again. 
But one more familiar with the subject discussed, and 
resolved not to be lost in the mists that will arise in the 
treatment of questions so subtle and delicate, but to hold 
his way right on through them, may derive much advantage 


from Dr. Elze's essays. To our thinking Dr. Elze is by no 
means always right in his conclusions. We think he is quite 
wrong as to the date of The Tempest y which, mainly on 
the strength of a passage in Ben Jonson's Volpone, he 
holds to be 1604; and so as to the date of Henry VIIL^ 
which he supposes to have appeared before the death of 
Queen Elizabeth. Iri cases where he cannot be said to be 
certainly wrong, he can as little be pronounced certainly 
right. Throughout the book there is a want of solidity, so 
far as' demonstration is concerned. The evidence, indeed, 
that is occasionally advanced is so slight as to be scarcely 
tangible. But yet the book is worth reading. It has been 
said, libellously or not, of women and of certain judges, that 
it would be well if they would give their conclusions without 
stating their reasons. Now just the opposite may be said of 
Dr. Elze : we value his reasons, but not his conclusions. 
The information in which he abounds is so various and so 
valuable that we are glad to have the benefit of it, though 
often we sympathize not at all with the purpose to which it 
is applied. So to speak, it is pleasant to wander with Dr. 
Elze in the b5rways and meadows of the Elizabethan age ; 
however we may differ from him as to the destination of any 
particular path. He has so much to say about the scenery 
through which we pass, that we willingly follow for a while. 
But when after an agreeable lecture, our guide proclaims 
that he has conducted to such and such a spot, we can only 
say : " Thank you much. Doctor, for your good company ; 
but really we think we have not arrived at the place you 
name, but at quite a different spot, if, indeed, we have 
arrived an)nvhere. And why should we be always arriving ? 
Pray, talk on, and do not trouble yourself and us as to our 
whereabouts T Let us mention one or two of the points on 
which Dr. Elze is well worth hearing, quite apart from 


"argal" expressed or understood in his consideration of 
them. We are happy to find him confirming two notions 
we have ourselves long entertained, — that our great poet's 
obligations to Montaigne and to Marlowe have not yet been 
adequately recognized. Of course everybody has noticed 
the direct quotation from the famous Essays — from Chap. 
XXX. " Of Cannibals," made by Gonzalo to amuse the 
sorrow-stricken king in TTie Tempest (act ii. sc. i, 144-172); 
but other signs of acquaintance with Montaigne, though 
that quotation might well have prepared us to expect them, 
have, we believe, been scarcely at all perceived. In his 
essay on The Tempest Dr. Elze makes these remarks : — 
" Hamlet's views about the uncertainty of death, his per- 
suasion that ' the readiness is all,' his thoughts about suicide, 
have their prototype in Essai XIX. of the first book of Mon- 
taigne (* Que philosopher, c'est apprendre k mourir '), and in 
Essai III. of the second book (* Coustume de I'lsle de Cea '). 
The idea that nothing in itself is either good or bad, but that . 
our thinking makes it so, which is expressed not only in 
Hamlet II. ii., but in other passages of Shakespeare as well, 
might recall Essai XL. of the first book (* Que le goust des 
biens et des maux despend en bonne partie de Topinion que 
nous en avons'); this is, however, only a specious resemblance, 
for Montaigne speaks of physical, Shakespeare of moral good 
and evil. The description of the music of the spheres in The 
Merchant of Venice (V. i.) seems likewise taken from Mon- 
taigne (Book i. Essai XXII.), which at the same time proves 
that Shakespeare must have read the French philosopher 
in the original, for at the time of the composition of The 
Merchant of Venice (1594), Florio's translation can scarcely 
have been in existence, or it must have literally followed 
the maxim nonum prematur in annumP Dr. Elze does not 
insist on Shakespeare's indebtedness in these passages. " All 


these passages," he writes, " treat of views and ideas which 
no doubt were widely spread, and the similarity is too littlie 
palpable to justify the reproach of * stealing.' " ( Volpone^ 
III. 2.) 

In any case, he has given us some valuable illustrations, 
and if, as to the points just mentioned, we do not believe in 
the actual contact of the greatest French mind with the 
greatest English of the sixteenth century, yet — and this is of 
higher interest — ^we are led to discern a certain native 
alliance and sympathy between these supreme geniuses. We 
think ourselves that there are many more indications of that 
direct contact than have yet been collected ; but we cannot 
now stay to particularize. We should confidently point to 
the fact that a copy of Florio's Montaigne has come down to 
us with Shakespeare's autograph in it, but that the genuine- 
ness of the inscription has been seriously doubted. 

The influence of Marlowe upon Shakespeare is more patent 
and certain. If the great master ever had himself a master 
it was Marlowe. Many a " saw " of that shepherd he found 
" of might." It is true that as he grew to artistic maturity, 
he saw in his predecessor's work much that was provocative 
of ridicule, and that he ridiculed it To make Pistol talk 
in Tamberlaine's vein was significant of a keen sense of 
Tamberlaine's excesses. But in his not unkindly laughter 
at such fantastic bombast, he never ceased to admire what 
was to be admired. If he derides in Henry IV., he quotes 
approvingly in As You Like It, In the Merry Wives of 
Windsor the derision and the acceptance appear together. 
In his wrath — it was only comical wrath — he remembered 
mercy ; nay, he remembered affection. Perhaps only now 
are we beginning really to appreciate the power of the 
first in time of the great Elizabethans. Certainly no formal 
tribute has ever before been paid him comparable with 



that lately offered by a poet of our own day, who is 
also a critic of no mean order. But the highest tribute 
of all was paid him by Shakespeare's attention and study- 
Of this connection, as seen in at least one play, Dr. Elze 
speaks very positively. He says that, "the protot)rpe of 
Shylock "... clearly lies in Marlowe's Jew of Malta, with- 
out which the Merchant of Venice would, in all proba- 
bility, never have been written. It is strange that, so far 
as we know, no German commentator has yet compared 
Marlowe's tragedy; other English critics deny, or at all 
events do not sufficiently apprize (sic) the relations exist- 
ing between the two plays. In Hallam's eyes, Marlowe's 
Barabas is unworthy to be regarded as the prototype of Shy- 
lock, though the Jew of Malta may possibly have furnished 
Shakespeare with a few hints. Dyce despatches the subject 
with equal brevity. He admits, indeed, that Shakespeare 
was intimately acquainted with Marlowe's play, " but," he con- 
tinues, " no one who has carefully compared the character of 
Barabas with that of Shylock will allow that he received more 
than unimportant hints from it." The collection of so- 
called parallel passages from both plays in the appendix of 
Waldron's edition and continuation of Jonson's Sad Shepherd^ 
he says, " proves nothing." And Dr. Elze proceeds to " see 
what is meant by a few and unimportant hints." A good 
deal of what he proceeds to say is somewhat overstrained ; 
but something, we think, holds firm. 

" To such a searcher of hearts as Shakespeare it was an 
irresistible temptation to transform this Barabas into a 
genuine Jewish usurer, and to change the bombastic and 
impossible criminal into a real man, with human motives, 
passions, and actions. Barabas, if any, was the man suited 
to be made the claimant in the law-suit in regard to the 
pound of flesh ; while at the same time his daughter afforded 


the poet a handle to bring him into connections of a diffe- 
rent kind with the Christian world:" 

And in all the Essays, whether we go with their leading 
tenets or not, there is much that "tends to edification." 
Thus in another part of that on the Merchant may be found 
some remarks on the question, often raised, whether Shylock 
is a tragic or a comic character. How greatly public opinion 
has changed in certain respects is very curiously indicated 
by the very existence of such a question. It is certain that 
to an Elizabethan audience there could be nothing tragic in 
the presentment of Shylock, if the idea of tragedy involves, 
as it certainly does, an element of pity. Shylock might well 
say, " Sufferance is the badge of all our tribe." Dr. Elze 
quotes from Hebler this quotation from Luther :— " Know 
thou, dear Christian, that next to the devil, thou canst have 
no more bitter or eager enemy than a downright Jew, one 
who seriously means to be the Jew. I will give thee mine 
honest advice : set fire to their synagogues, and that which 
will not burn, load and cover it with earth, so that man 
shall see neither a stone nor a vestige of it everlastingly." 

When such crying bigotry possessed the leaders of the 
people, what could be hoped ? When the blind lead the 
blind they both, we are told, fall into the ditch. 

Marlowe's Barabas was got up in a purely comic fashion. 
He was equipped with a big red nose. " O, mistress," says 
Ithamar, " I have the bravest, gravest, secret, subtle, bottle- 
nosed knave to my master that ever gentleman had." How 
merciless is Gratiano's banter in Shakespeare's play ! How 
supreme the gentle Antonio's scorn ! What a terrible im- 
peachment it is that Shylock can bring against 

" The kindest man, 
The best condition'd and unwearied spirit 
In doing courtesies." 


" He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million, 
laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my 
nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated 
mine enemies ; and what's his reason ? I am a Jew ! " \Vhat 
a revolution of sentiment has taken place ! " However 
grievously Shylock may have offended, however heartily 
we may despise and condemn his character, yet we cannot 
avoid a momentary feeling of sympathy with him when he 
staggers out of the court, crushed by the pardon which the 
Doge has granted him. Nay, we feel inclined to agree 
with the young lady who, according to H. Heine, at the 
conclusion of the fourth act, exclaimed, * The poor man is 
wronged ! ' " 

Certainly there is no more impressive proof of Shake- 
speare's splendid humanity than the manner in which, with- 
out shocking the prejudices of his age by any pedantic ser- 
monizings, he has brought the outcast of society within the 
range of our sympathy. Marlowe's Jew is a monster ; the 
Jew of Shakespeare is^ after all, a man, with a heart once 
capable of tenderness, but at length petrified by ill uses and 
ill usage, God-made, like the rest of us, man-marred, like so 

There is much interesting matter in the chapter on Shake- 
speare's supposed travels. Dr. Elze does not see any 
reason for agreeing with Knight as to his having visited Scot- 
land. He thinks that the " Laurence Fletcher, Comediane 
to his Majestie," of the Aberdeen records of 1601, was not a 
member of a strolling company of players, but was " lent " 
by the King to Sir Francis Hospitall, of Haulszie, a French 
nobleman, upon whom the freedom of the borough was con- 
ferred. " The king lent him his court comedian, who in so far, 
may be regarded as a pendant to * my lord of Leicester's jest- 
ing player.' " Surely a very gratuitous assumption. His court 


comedian? The phrase seems to carry us back to pre- 
Thespian days, when a corps dramatique consisted of one. 
We do not think it could mean " a fool." Besides, we 
happen to know the name of King James's fool, and it was 
not Fletcher. We do not think Knight's argument decisive, 
far from it ; but really, as Shakespearian arguments go, it is 
not so bad. 

Dr. Elze may be said to add something to the proba- 
bility of Shakespeare's having visited Italy. It is indeed 
difficult to believe that the poet never himself saw those 
fair blue skies beneath which so many of his creations 
move as beneath their native and proper canopy. The very 
air of Italy seems blowing through so many of his scenes. 
Does any non-Italian work transport us into the bright, 
careless, star-clear South, as the last act of The Merchant of 
Venice transports us ? The most striking fresh suggestions 
Dr. Elze makes, relate to the mention of Julio Romano in 
The Winter's Tale:— 

" To the question why he should have selected this artist 
before all others, some critics might be inclined to answer 
that he picked up the name at random, if we may use the 
expression. But such an answer would be quite unsatisfac- 
tory, in the face of the fact that the poet most correctly esti- 
mates Romano's merits as an artist, and praises him not only 
in eloquent but the most appropriate words." Dr. Elze's 
answer is "that he obtained his knowledge of Romano's 
works by personal inspection." The Palazzo del T in 
Mantua, built by Romano, and filled with his paintings and 
drawings, was one of the wonders of the age. But Shake- 
speare makes him a sculptor! Here Dr. Elze's answer is 
really notable. It is given by the quotation of two epitaphs 
found in Vasari. 


•* Videbat Jupiter corpora sculpta pictaque 

Spirare, aedes mortalium aequarier coelo, 

Julii virtute Romani ; tunc iratus 

Concilio divorum omnium vocato, 

Ilium aeteriis {sic) sustulit ; quod pati nequiret 

Vinci aut aequari ab homine terrigena." 


** Romanus moriens secum tres Julius arteis 
Abstulit; baud minim, quatuor unus erat." 


Tres artes! Corpora sculpta!" exclaims Dr. Elze, with 
pardonable exultation. " It is true that Vasari makes no 
further mention of Romano's sculptures, neither do his Ger- 
man translators, nor, as far as we know, any recent art-his- 
torian, say a word about them. But Shakespeare is never- 
theless right ; he has made no blunder ; he has not abused 
the poetical licence by introducing Romano as a sculptor. 
And more than this, his praise of Romano wonderfully agrees 
with the epitaph in which truth to nature and life is like- 
wise praised as being Julio's chief excellence (if he could 
put breath into his work — * videbat Jupiter corpora spirare '). 
Is this chance ? " 

Dr. Elze's conclusion is that Shakespeare had been at 
Mantua, and had there seen Romano's works, and read his 
epitaphs. As we have said, we think he has, by this and 
other considerations, certainly increased the probability of 
the Italian travels. 

Our readers may by this time be able to judge for them- 
selves of the possible profit to be derived from the volume 
before us. We will only now, in conclusion, briefly men- 
tion what seems to us Dr. Elze's chief deficiency, and his 
chief misapprehension. 

He seems unable to appreciate adequately the importance 
of the consideration of style — we use the term in its most com- 
prehensive sense — in deciding or discussing Shakespearian 


chronology, and other Shakespearian questions. We submit, 
for instance, that no critic duly competent in this respect, 
would dream of assigning The Tempest to about the same 
date as King Lear. It is in this respect that German criti- 
cism has so often failed disastrously. How else could 
Schlegel and other countrymen of his give such remarkable 
verdicts on what we English call, and persist in calling, 
the " spurious plays ? " Think of this dictum of Schlegel's : 
Thomas Lord Cromwell ^ Sir John Oldcastle (First Part), A 
Yorkshire Tragedy, "are not only unquestionably Shake- 
speare's, but in my opinion, they deserve to be classed 
among his best and maturest works !" 

Again, Dr. Elze, in our opinion, lays a great deal too 
much stress on Shakespeare's early maturity. The facts, 
all that are well substantiated, do not make for this view ; 
but Dr. Elze will have it so. What encourages him is 
what may be called comparative biography. He is always 
ready with a list of achievements performed at an early 
age — Raphael's painting the Sposalizio in his twenty-first 
year, the Entombment, in the Borghese Gallery, and the 
Belle Jardiniere, in his twenty-fourth, and beginning the 
Stanze in his twenty-fifth ; Mozarf s composing his Mithri- 
dates in his fourteenth year, his Idomeneo in his twenty- 
fifth, his EntJUhrung aus dem Serail in his twenty-sixth. 
But, putting aside the questions of antecedents — the ques- 
tion whether Shakespeare's early advantages equalled those 
enjoyed by other great spirits — comparative biography tells 
also a quite difterent tale. It tells us of great geniuses who 
were slow in putting forth fruit. In England, for instance, 
Dryden, Richardson, Scott all ripened slowly. If all these 
three men had died even when they were upwards of forty, 
their names would well-nigh have passed away with them ; 
at the best, but a dim glory would have been theirs. Of 


Shakespeare, we know for certain that he wrote his J^ape of 
Liicrece in 1593 and the following year. We know it for 
certain, because, dedicating Venus and Adonis to the Earl 
of Southampton, in 1593, and apologizing for his "un- 
polished lines," he vows " to take advantage of all idle hours 
till I have honoured you with some graver labour." And, in 
1594, the Rape of Lucrece — "the graver labour promised" — 
appears, dedicated, of course, to the same nobleman. We 
have, then, a sure representative of Shakespeare's develop- 
ment in 1593-4, when he was just thirty years old. Now, 
what does it show us ? Not the great playwright, but the 
great poet, in the full lavish enjoyment of a yet unpruned 
exuberant youthful fancy, his powers not yet reduced to 
obey dramatic restraints, the greatest heir of the world, filled 
with the delighted consciousness of his magnificent dower, 
but not yet wholly submitting himself to artistic discipline 
and economy. 




(From the Saturday Review for July 31, 1875.) 

A QUESTION debated in many minds just now is the 
possible revival of the drama. When one of the chief 
poets of the day, who has previously written nothing of the 
kind, appears as a playwright, hope naturally awakes. Such 
was the brilliancy of our Elizabethan era that we can never 
cease to be dazzled by it — never cease to think of it as the 
golden age of our literature, and, therefore, as an age, the 
forms and modes of which are always to be aspired after. It 
is true that since those palmy days the decline and fall of 
our drama has been steady and complete ; but yet we cannot 
help hoping it may rise again. We cannot reconcile our- 
selves to the extinction of the glory of our literature. We 
know that there are " flaming ministers," whose former light 
can be restored, and we are eager to believe this to be one 
of them. And yet for that " cunning'st pattern of excelling 
nature," as we may well call the Elizabethan drama, when 
its flame is put out, who knows " where is that Promethean 
heat that can " its ** light relume " ? 

It may be worth while considering for a moment two of 
the conditions under which our drama throve so splendidly 
at the close of the sixteenth century. Let us notice, first, 
the active intellectuality of the Elizabethan age ; and, 
secondly, that it was not a time when books were abundant, 


or the study of them a common habit. Out of many cir- 
cumstances that must co-exist, if a drama is to prosper, there 
are certainly two of them most important. There must be a 
thirsty nation, and it must slake its thirst, not at books, but 
at plays. The demand will create the supply. If a people, 
roused by keen intellectual impulses, tjims to the stage for 
the satisfaction of its wants, the stage will be found respon- 
sive. The " drink divine " which is asked for by " the thirst 
which from the soiil doth rise " will assuredly be provided. 
It is only at certain junctures that a people will so turn ; but 
at them it will not turn in vain. Both at Athens and in 
London, when the nation crowded to the theatre, the theatre 
gave it a royal welcome. 

It is hardly necessary to .point out how various and how 
intense was the mental activity of the Elizabethan age. Life 
in England has never been broader and deeper than it was 
then. It was morning with us, so to speak. We were 
waking to a fresh consciousness of ourselves, and of the 
world around us. The old things had passed away, and, 
behold, all things were become new. 

** Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive ; 
But to be young was very heaven ! " 


A strange sense of power thrilled us, and the revelation of 
unsuspected opportunities for exertion and enterprise trans- 
formed our inmost being. The very earth widened aroiirid 
us ; and where but yesterday there rose forbidding barriers, 
there now spread far away an endless expanse of unexplored 
regions, mysterious, fascinating, delightful; and as with 
material confinements, so it was with spiritual. In the 
universe of thought the mind wandered free. For good and 
for evil, it defied the restraints of previous dogmatisms, and 
stepped boldly within the precincts from which it had been 


rigorously interdicted. Was there ever in England such 
another age of movement ? — an age so eager, so fearless, so 
sanguine, so exultant in its liberty, so gwift to do or die ? 
Never, perhaps, was the national imagination so quickened 
and so vigorous. Every day produced its poet : 

" The isle is full of noises, 
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not." 

Nor could it be otherwise. A land so bright-hearted could 
not but break forth into singing. Joy, even as sorrow, must 
have words given it — the joy 

" That 4oes not speak 
Whispers the o'erfraught heart, and bids it break." 

There is no more striking recognition of the keen intelli- 
gence of the Elizabethans, and the readiness and facility of 
their imaginations, than is afforded by Shakespeare himself 
in the choruses X)f his Henry V. Reading them, one sees 
how a Shakespeare was possible. They show us how he 
could rely upon his audience. Conscious of the grotesque 
contrast between, the " unworthy scaffold " of the Globe and 
the " so gxeat an object " brought forth upon it — 

"Can this cockpit hold 
The vasty fields of«France ? or may we cram 
Within this wooden O the very casques 
That did affright the air at Agincourt ? " 

He can appeal to the spectators to make, up all the deficien- 
cies. " Let us," he says, 

•* On your imaginary forces work. 

* * • * * * 

Piece -out our imperfections with your thoughts ; 

Into a thousand parts divide one man, 

And make imaginary puissance ; 

Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them 

Printing their proud hoofs i* the receiving earth : 

For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings, 


Carry them here and there ; jumping o'er times. 
Turning the accomplishment of many years 
Into an hour-glass." 

In another prologue he bids them 

" Play with your fancies, and in them behold 

Upon the hempen tackle ship-boys climbing — 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

O, do buj think, 

You stand upon the rivage, and behold 

A city on the inconstant billows dancing. 
« « * * * 

Follow, follow ! 

Grapple yqur minds to stemage of this navy. 

♦ ♦ ■ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege ; 

-» * * 4 » * 

Still be kind, 
And eke out our performance with* your mind." 

In the prologue of the 'last act there is a very noticeable 
phrase : 

"But now behold. 
In the quick forge and working-house of thought, 
How London doth pour out her citizens."* 

The fires in the forge of thought burnt brightly in the 
Elizabethan age, and the hands wrought busily in its working 

*' When the cheerfulness of the people is so sprightly up, 
as that it has not only wherewith to guard well its own free- 
dom, but to spare, and to bestow upon the solidest and 
sublimest points of controversy and new inventions," a 
great literature may be reasonably expected, but the form 
will not be always the same. In the Elizabethan age, with 
its social habits, with its gaiety of spirit, its delight in action, 
the form could not but be dramatic. The particular con- 
sideration we have here to entertain is that it was not an age 
given to books and to book-study. It was the age of 


L' Allegro, rather than of II Penseroso. It found its plea- 
sure in an oral literature. The stage exactly answered to 
its necessities, and so all of a sudden it sprang up to its per- 
fection. It is strange to think that one of the writers of 
Gorbqduc—rihQ play that is known as our first tragedy — lived 
to see Hamlet and Macbeth. Just so in Greece, under highly 
similar conditions, the drama leapt to its maturity, -^schy- 
lus might have seen Thespis perform ; Sophocles was nearly 
twenty years old when Phrynichus exhibited his Fhosmssce. 

It ought to be carefully remembered that the Elizabethan 
plays were written to be acted, not to be read. This charac- 
tteristic is stamped upon them. They are the result of 
immediate contact between the people and the author. In 
this connection between the dramatist and his audience 


there is something not to be found in other kinds of litera- 
ture. Criticism is not distant and, possibly, powerless, but 
instant and decisive. Every genuine dramatic literature 
may be said, in a very special sense, to be the creation of 
the circle to which it belongs. The Elizabethan drama was 
the creation of its circle, and that circle was the nation. The 
people did not play at plays, as we do now-a-days. With 
us books are real things ; with them the theatre was a real 
thing. They believed in it. It is true there were certain 
religionists — well-meaning, but rudely-cultivated men — who 
stood aloof from it ; but the nation as a whole rejoiced in it 
ardently. Let us thoroughly realize this signal fact, that in 
the absence of books and newspapers, and other now most 
common means of information and culture, the drama was 
then the one literature of the day. It was everything to 
that age. To such an extent was it so as to be in danger 
of degradation in artistic respects. It was in danger of 
being used for political and controversial purposes, a danger 
not always escaped. In several extant plays one -may see 


how the drama was made to perform the function of the 
pamphlet, or of the modem newspaper — a function which 
the old comedy at Athens performed freely. In this respect 
the jealousy with which the drama was watched by autho- 
rity, was of real service to its true development. It saved it 
from a thousand snares to which it was exposed by its very 
popularity. The very existence of that jealousy is highly 
significant of the influence and power of the drama that ex- 
cited it. In short, the theatre was at that time the great 
centre of English art and thought. It drew to itself the 
highest intellects of the time ; it dealt with the highest and 
gravest questions ; it portrayed with incomparable power the 
deepest and intensest passions. 

" All thottghts, ail passions, all delights. 
Whatever stirs this mortal frame" — 

all were but ministers of the Elizabethan drama, and fed its 
** sacred flame." 

A time came when the intellect of the nation looked else- 
where for its sustenance, and it was then that the drama 
decayed. Books gradually came within everybody's reach 
and to everybody's liking ; and in delighted communion with 
master minds, through such media, men no longer flocked to 
the play-houses, once resonant with the life and the joy of 
the nation. With less gregarious habits, the quiet and calm 
of the study charmed more than the excitement and noise of 
the theatre. Fascinated, as we must ever be, by the dra- 
matic form, modem days may, perhaps, successfully de- 
velop for themselves a new species of drama — the reading 
drama, as we may call it, as distinguished from the acting ; 
and into this new species an immortal life may be breathed 
by another race of geniuses, who may find in it the fittest 
embodiment for thoughts that wake to. perish never; but 


that the theatre, however it may be improved, can ever again 
be what it once was, seems merely impossible.^ Our voices 
change as we grow older, and so the voice of literature 
changes, and the old tones cannot be brought back, charm 
we never so wisely. 

^ See also the paper on Shakespeare and Chaucer, 



HALLIWELUS [NOW Halliwell-Phillipps] 



(From the Athenaum for Feb. 21, 1874.) 

IT is a common lament^ — and by many eager spirits it is 
felt to be a real grievance — that we are so scantily in- 
formed as to the lives of our noblesj poets — that, in a certain 

**The world knows nothing of its greatest men." 

True it is that they pass before our wistful eyes like Virgil 
and his guide in their nether journey, 

" Obscuri sub luce maligna." 

That this vexatious darkness will ever be wholly dissipated, 
and that we shall see in perfect clearness the forms and the 
movements whose present dimness, or invisibility, so troubles 
us, is certainly not to be expected ; but there is good reason 
for hoping that the obscurity may be in some degree at least 
diminished, the shrouding clouds pierced by some few rays 
of light, and those coveted outlines discerned, if not dis- 
tinctly, yet somewhat less hazily. With regard to Chaucer, 
the discoveries lately made, and now making at the Record 
Office — of which accounts have appeared from time to time 
in our columns — this hope is in the very act of realization. 
The mists that surrounded him are growing thinner, and so 
he seems nearer to us and better knowable. Still more 
cheering is it to have grounds for believing that as to Shake- 


speare, too, 'fresh facts may be forthcoming. It is certain 
that all the sources of information about him are not ex- 
hausted. The statement of Steevens is no longer true, if, 
indeed, it was ever true. " All that is known with any de- 
gree of certainty concerning Shakespeare," wrote that pe- 
remptory commentator, " is that he was born at Stratford- 
upon-Avon; married, and had children there; went to 
London, where he commenced actor, and wrote poems and 
plays ; returned to Stratford, made his will, died, and was 
buried." The ceaseless industry of Malon^ and his fellows 
has added fact to fact, till what has been gained from ob- 
livion is of no contemptible amount. It is possible that yet 
greater additions may be made. There may be lurking in 
the comer of some library, public or private, or in some 
not yet finally sifted repository of national documents, still 
fuller illustrations of what may well be a central interest with 
all English-speaking peoples. If ever — to echo words of 
Malone's — ^if ever the office books of Tilney and Sir George 
Buc should be found ! Tilney and Sir George Buc were 
Masters of the Revels before Sir Henry Herbert; and if 
ever their official records should be discovered, it is pro- 
bable the dates of Shakespeare's plays would be conclusively 
settled, and we should know for a certainty what was the 
progress of his art, and could study at our leisure his splen- 
did growth. And it is easy to conjecture other fountains of 
information that may sooner or later be opened. Of some, 
indeed, there are already rumours, of which we hope in due 
time to give good account. Of course these investigations 
as to the biography of the supreme dramatist are not to be 
regarded as the final and highest Shakespearian work. They 
are only means to ati end. But they are means of very con- 
siderable value, and every genuine student of Shakespeare 
will be thoroughly grateful for any enlargement of them. 


This line of Shakespearian study is not likely to be 
neglected or ill followed whilst we have amongst us one so 
ardent and so able to pursue it as Mr. Halliwell. What 
we have specially to announce in this paper is a fresh dis- 
covery made by him, which, partly at the instance of Mr. 
Fumivall, the director of the "New Shakspere Society," 
as we gather from the " note " prefixed to the copy now, 
thanks to Mr. Halli well's courtesy, before us, he has con- 
siderately decided to place at once within the reach of those 
who may care for it. 

And who will not care for it ? The mere occurrence of 
Shakespeare's name is enough to. make any Elizabethan 
document or book interesting ; and here we have a series of 
papers concerning the theatrical company to which he be- 
longed, and in one of them an account of his first belonging 
to it. 

" Nearly four years," says the ** note," " have elapsed since 
the day on Which in search of materials for a work on the 
Life of Shakespeare, it was my good fortune to discover a 
remarkable series of documents respecting the Globe and 
Blackfriars, in which the nature of the poet's connection with 
those two theatres was for the first time satisfactorily ascer- 
tained. It was my intention to have published these manu- 
scripts long since, and in fact some progress in the compo- 
sition of my new work had been made, when circumstances 

enforced almost exclusive attention to other matters 

In the summer of 1870, by the kind permission of the autho- 
rities of the Lord Chamberlain's Office, I was enabled to 
examine all the books therein preserved, with liberty to copy 

any documents relating to the early English stage 

Amongst the miscellaneous records was a small thin folio 
manuscript, bearing the title oi Presentations and Warrants in 
the years 1 63 1, 1 63 2, &c* Upon looking it ovei*, I could hardly 



believe my eyes when coming across a list of shareholders 
in the Blackfriars and Globe theatres, with information 
respecting their management that no amount of reading 
could have elicited from a million of scattered notices. 
Although the papers were of a somewhat late date, they 
emanated from persons well acquainted with the stage of 
Shakespeare's time. The last petition contains the evidence 
of Cuthbert and Winifred Burbage, the great actor's brother 
and wife, one of whom at least was unquestionably familiar 
with all that related to Shakspeare's connection with the 

We think our readers will sympathize with Mr. Halliweirs 
surprise and satisfaction. He could hardly believe his eyes 
when coming across those familiar names, Burbage and 
Lowen, and Taylor, and Condell or Cundall, and Heming. 
He fairly remirids us of Keats " on first looking into Chap- 
man's Hamery He had travelled mUch in the realms of 
black letter and of manuscript ; through many, registers and 
records had. he been : yet this was an ecstatic moment. 

" Then felt he like some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his view ; 
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes . 
He stared at the Pacific." 

May Mr. Halliwell's generous zeal be often so rewarded ! 

These papers are of the year 1635, nearly twenty years 
after Shakespeare's death, but they take us into the midst of 
the circle where he was once so well known amongst those 
he called " fellows." The circle, it is true, is not unbroken : 
the place that knew Richard Burbage, the famous actor of 
Richard III., Of King John, of Richard the Second, of Henry 
the Fifth, of Lear, and Othello, and Macbeth, knows him no 
more. Heming and Cundell, the Editors of the ,Folio of 
1623 (to whom with Richard Burbage, the poet gave and 


bequeathed " xxvis. viiid. a peece to buy them rings,") are 
gone ; Kempe, the Launcelot and Touchstone of his day, 
has joined his famous comrade in the other world; but 
there yet survive many with whom Shakespeare was once, 
intimate, and those who had departed are still represented. 
There is Cuthbert Burbage, the great actor's brother ; and 
the great actor's wife Winifred (now married to the actor 
Robinson), and his son William; Mrs. Cundall, widow of 
the Henry of the WilJ ; William, son of John Heming ; and 
besides these relics, there is Lowen, one of the chief of the 
King's players after Heming and Burbage had passed away ; 
and Taylor, a famous actor in his time, the original performer 
of Hamlet ; and Swanston and Shanks, who had probably 
many a time trod the boards along with the author, whose 
association with them is a warrant for their immortality.- 

These papers, six in number, with a closing note by the 
original receiver of them, all relate to one and the same matter. 
Five of them are petitions and counter-petitions, addressed 
to the Lord Chamberlain of His Majesty's household, viz., 
Philip, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, brother of the 
William whom some critics have identified with the " W. H." 
of the Sonnets ; two are the rescripts, or memoranda, of his 

The series opens with the petition of three of the King's 
Players — this company was under the government of the 
Lord Chamberlain — that they might be admitted sharers or 
" housekeepers " — shareholders, as we should say — in the 
playhouses of the Globe and Blackfriars. The complainants 
are Robert Benfield (" Benefifeld "), Heliard (also Eyloerdt, 
and also Eyllardt; elsewhere Elyard and Eliard), Swan- 
ston, and Thomas Pollard, all names of more or less note. 
Their grievance is that they do not get their fair share of 
the profits. It seems that those " interested in the house," 


or the "housekeepers," received for themselves half the 
receipts for the galleries and boxes, and at the Globe half 
the money taken at the tiring-room (/>., the green-room) 
door ; the remaining half and the money received at the 
** outer doors," that is, it would seem, the receipts for the 
pit, was divided amongst the actors; so that those who 
wer^both shareholders and actoi:s received a greatly superior 
dividend to those who were actors only. It is against this 
inequality that the abov^-mentioned trio make their murmur. 
The actors, it appears, had to defray the working expenses. 
They had to pay the "hired men," the supernumeraries 
wanted on occasion ; to provide apparel, poets^ lights, and 
other charges of the houses whatsoever. A strange conjunc- 
tion, " apparell, /^7^/^x, lights," &c. Falstaff's trunk-hose, 
Falstaff 's creator ^ and the candles to see them by ! They 
judiciously omit to mention that the shareholders paid the 
rent . Then comes an account of the shares as then held. 
Of the sixteen Globe shares : — 

Cuthbert Burbidge holds •Si- 
Winifred (now Mrs. Robinson) 3i 

Mrs. Cundall . . 2 

" Shanks " who had purchased from " Hemings " . 3 

Taylor ......... 2 

Lowen .2 

The eight Blackfriars stand thus : — 

Shanks . ... 2 

Burbage. ....... 

Mrs. Robinson . ' 



Mrs. Cundall 



The petition is t6 the effect that the Burbages may be 
directed to sell two of their Globe shares, and Shanks one 
of his Globe shares and one of his Blackfriars to the com- 
plainants : " for which your -petitioners shall have just cause 
to blesse your Lordship, as, however they are dayly bound 
to doe, with the devotions of most humble and obliged 

Next comes his Lordship's reply, dated " Court at Theo- 
balles, 12 July, 1635," that " haveing considered this petition, 
and the severall answeres and replyes of the parties, the 
merites of the petitioners, the disproportion of their shares, 
and the interest of his M^-jesties service," he thinks fit and 
does order that the complainants shall be admitted t6 the 
purchase of the shares they desire ; and he desires " the 
housekeepers, and all others whome it may conceme, to take * 
notice and to conforme themselves therein accordingly," and 
then follow threats in case of disobedience. 

But the order and the threats were in vain. The share- 
.holders clung to their' possessions. And so in the 3rd 
Document, Messrs. Benfield, Swanston, and Pollard, as im- 
portunate as the defendants were tenacious, address the 
Lord Chamberlain once more. In this second petition they 
gave more minute details ; they state that the working ex- 
penses amount to " 900 or 1000//. or thereabouts, per annum, 
being 3//. a day, one day with another, besides the extraor-: 
dinary charge which the said actors are wholly at for 
apparell and poets, &c. ; Whereas the said .houskeepers out 
of all their gaines have not till our Lady Day last payd above 
6*5//. per annum' rent for both houses, towardes which they 
• rayse between 20 and 30//. per annum from the tap houses, 
and a tenement and a garden belonging to the premises, &c., 
and are at noe other charge whatsoever, excepting the ordi- 
nary reparations of the houses. So that upon a mediuiA 


made of the gaynes of the howskeepers and those of the 
actors, one day with another throughout the yeere, the peti- 
tioners will make it apparent that when some of the hous- 
keepers share 12s. a day at the Globe, the actors share not 
above 3X." 

They pray that the matter may be settled in the way pre- 
viously urged, or otherwise, that his Lordship may be pleased 
to consider "whether it bee not reasonable and eqijitable 
that the actors in general may injoy the benefitt of both 
houses to themselves, paying the said howskeepers 'such a 
valuable rent for the safne as your Lordship shall' thinke j\ist 
'and indifferent." 

And now come two counter-petitions, one from Shanks, 
the other from the Burbages. 

Shanks in document (d) relates how he bought the shares 
he holds, and what he paid for them, which came to more 
than ;£^35o. William Heming (Hemings of Christ Church), 
was clearly not the man of business his father was. It was 
he who sold the shares to Shanks, and received help from 
him " since Hee was in prison." To return, this petitioner 
refers to his long dramatic service ; he is an old man in this 
quality (compare Hamlet^ II. ii. 363), and has yet made no 
provision ** for himselfe in his age, nor for his wife, children 
and grandchild." Moreover, his profits " are thinges very 
casuall and subject to bee discontinued and lost by sicknes 
[/.^., through the plague, for during such visitations the 
theatres were closed ; see the licence " Pro Jacobo Burbage 
et aliis, 1574," &c.], and diverse other ways and to yield noe 
profitt at all." Further, he urges that the applicants are well 
enough paid: they each received ;£^i8o "this yeere last 
past," besides which Mr. Swanston, one of them who is most 
violent in this business, " had and receaved this last yeer 
above 34//. for the profitt of a third part of one part in the 


Blackfriers, which he bought for 20//. and yet hath mjoyed 
two or three yeer6s allready, and hath still as long time in • 
the same as your suppliant hath in his, who for soe much as 
Mr. Swanston bought for 20//. your suppliant payd 60//." &c. 
The amount of the rent he says is jQioo, "besides repara- 
cions, which is dayly very chargeable unto them." He 
further states, " that he hath still of his owne purse supplyed 
the company for the service of his Majesty with boyes, as 
Thomas Pollard [now it may be presumed one of the three 
would be shareholders], John Thompson deceased (for 
whom he paid 40 //.), your suppliant having payd his part of 
200//. for other boyes since his comming to the company," 
John Honiman, Thomas Holcombe, and diverse others, and 
at this time maintaines three more for the sayd service," and ' 
that he is not in a position to sell his shares, for he has 
made them over "for security of moneys taken up . . . .of 
Robert Morecroft of Lincolne his wifes uncle for the pur- 
chase of the sayd partes." Lastly, he hopes his Lordship 
will not encourage demands of such a kind, or there will be 
no peace ; young men " shall alwayes refuse to doe his 
Majesty service unlesse they may have whatsoever they will, 
though it bee other men's estates." 

Next comes the most important document of the collec- 
tion, the counter-petition of the Burbages — " Cutbert Bur- 
bage, and Winnifred his brother's wife [Robinson, who had 
married her, is quietly ignored], and William his sonne." 

The general drift of this paper coincides with that of the 
preceding. It is urged that the complainants ought to be 
content with their present havings, &c. ; but the tone of 
the documents is such as befits a family of such theatrical 
eminence as that of the writers. They are ** the old family 
of the stage." " The father of us ... . was the first builder 
of playhouses." They speak of the complainants as " men 


soe soone shot up," and as " these new men that were never 
bred from children in the King's service " (was not Pollard 
so ? see above) ; and grow genuinely indignant at the thought 
of the proposed outrage. The passage of the utmost in- 
terest in their paper, and in the whole collection, is that in 
which they sketch the history of the theatres and of the 

" The father of us, Cutbert and Richard Burbage, was the 
first builder of playhouses, and was himsclfe in his younger 
yeeres a player. The Theater he *built with many hundred 
poundes taken up at interest The players that Hvd in those 
first times had only the profitts arising from the dores, but 
now the players receave all the comings in at* the dores to 
themselves, and halfe the galleries from the houskeepers. 
Hee built this house upon leased ground by which means 
the landlord and hee had a great suite in law, and by his 
death the like troubles fell on us his sonnes. Wee then be- 
thought us of altering firom thence, and at like expense built 
the Globe, with more summes of money taken up at interest 
which lay heavy on us many yeeres : and to ourselves we 
jo)med those deserveing men, Shakspere, Hemings, Condall, 
PhUlips, and others, partners in the profittes of that they 
call the House, but makeing the leases for twenty-one yeeres 
hath beene the destruction of ourselves and others, for they 
dying at the expiration of three or four yeeres of their lease^ 
the subsequent yeeres became dissolved to strangers as by 
marrying with their widdowes and the like by their children. 
Thus Right Honorable as concerning the Globe, where wee 
ourselves are but lessees. Now for the Blackfriers that is our 
inheritance ; our father purchased it at extreame rates and 
made it into a playhouse with great charge and treble, 
which after was leased out to one Evans, that first sett up the 
boyes commonly called the Queenje's Majesties Children of 



the Chappell. In processe of time, the boyes growing up to 
bee men, which were Underwood, Field, Ostler, and were 
taken to strengthen the King's service, and the more to 
strengthen the service, the boyes dayly. wearing out, it was 
considered that house would be as fitt for ourselves, and soe 
purchased the lease remaining from Evans with our money, 
and placed men players which were Hemings, Condall, 
Shakspeare, &c. And Richard Burbage who for thirty-five 
yeeres paines, cost and labour, made meanes to leave his wife 
and children some estate, and out of whose estate soe many 
of other players and their families have beene mayntaned, 
these new men, that were never bred from children in the 
King's service would take away, with oathes and menaces, 
that we shall bee forced, and that they will not thanke us for 
it ; soe that it seemes they would not pay us for what they 
would have or wee can spate, which more to satisfie your 
honor than their threatening pride, we are for ourselves 
willing to part with a part betweene us, they paying accord- 
ing as ever hath beene the custome and the number of yeeres 
the lease is made for." 

It is not too much to say that this is one of the most im- 
portant passages regarding Shakespeare that has yet been 
discovered. As to his connection with the stage, it is the 
most important. 

We cannot do more now than point out the leading 
features of it. We are sure that, for exposition and illustra- 
tion, it is in good hands with Mr; Halliwell. And we hope 
that he will let as little time as is consistent with sound 
workmanship elapse before he makes the result of his 
researches generally accessible. 

. For the first time we have a direct and trustworthy ac- 
count of Shakespeare's first connection with the Lord 
Chamberlain's players and the Globe Theatre. It would 


appear that it was after the building of the Bankside 
Theatre that " those deserving men Shakspeare, Hemings, 
Condall, Phillips and others " were made " partners in the 
profittes of that they call the House." Now that house*was 
erected about 1594; so that a certain list, purporting to give 
the nanfles of the Blackfriars shareholders in 1589, or rather 
the views it represents, for the list itsetf has now for some 
years been accepted as spurious, are finally negatived. 
Again we see that those biographers are mistaken who have 
represented the building, of the Globe as undertaken by 
Shakespeare himself. Further, it was not, it would seem, till 
the>time when Evans's lease of the Blackfriars Theatre was 
purchased back from him that the said "deserving men" 
acted in that theatre. • Now this re-purchase was made when 
the Children of the Chapel whom Evans had "set up " there 
grew to be men. Of these children. Underwood, Field, and 
Ostler are specially named ; and we know that these three 
acted as boys in Ben Jonson's Poetaster in 1601, and that 
Ostler and Underwood acted as men in The Alchemist in 
16 10. If they were taken to strengthen the King's service, 
the transference did not take place till .after May, 1603, 
obviously, and also because not till the accession of James 
the First 'was Burbage's company specially retained by the 
King, and entitled the " King's Players." Thus we learn that 
Shake^eare's connection with the Blackfriars Theatre began 
at a much later date than is commonly supposed. Also, does 
it not seem probable that he continued to act later than the 
general opinion allows ? On various other matters of inte-' 
rest suggested by this passage, we cannot now enter. 

• The sixth document reports how Shanks had attempted 
to make an arrangement with this discontented three ; " but 
they. not onely refused to give satisfaccion, but restrained 
him from the stage." 


The series concludes with a memorandum by the Lord 
Chamberlain i — 

" I desire Sir H. Herbert and Sir John Finett, and my 
solicitor Daniell Bedingfidd, to take this petition and the 
several papers heerunto annexed into their serious considera- 
tions, and to speake with the severall parties interested, and 
therupon andupcxi the whole matter to sett downe a pro- 
portionable and equitable summe of money to bee payd 
unto Shankes for the two partes which hee is to passe unto 
Benfield, Swanston, and Pollard, and to cause a finall 
agreement and convayances to be settled accordingly, and 
to give mee an account of their whole proceedinge^ in 
writing." ^ 

Aug. I, 1635. 

* A copy of these documents is now to be found in the Appendix to 
Part !► of Mr. HaUiwell-Phillipps' Illustrations of the Life of Shakespeare, 
Longmans^ 1^74* 






(From the Academy for Oct. 17, 1874.) 

IT is not likely that there will soon be an end of Shake- 
spearian controversies. For more than a century war 
has raged over the remains of the great dramatist, and the 
odium Shahespearianum has scarcely been surpassed by that 
which characterizes rival theologians. There have arisen 
from time to time noisy sciolists, who have settled everything 
to their own satisfaction with an overbearing dogmatism 
varying inversely with their fitness • for the work ; and a 
glance at the criticism of our own day suffices to show that 
this breed is not extinct, or on the verge of extinction. 
Literary quackery has in fact displayed itself with peculiar 
brilliancy in connection with Shakespeare. The mounte- 
bank has come forward with his nostrum, and audacious and 
blatant after the manner of his kind, professed to cure every 
disorder ; and for an hour or so foolish people have listened. 
But presently this gentleman and his goods . have disap- 
peared, and some new doctor has taken his place and 
bawled out th^ virtues of some fresh panacea. The Com- 
mentators have become proverbial, not for wisdom. Not 
that there have not been amongst them men of infinite 

* A Concordance to Skctkespeare's Poems: An Index to every Word 
therein contained. By Mrs. Horace Howard Furness. (Philadelphia : 
J. B. Lippincott and Co., 1874.) 


merit, and men who have done for their special study im- 
perishable service ; but it is certain that as a class they are 
not considered models of sagacity. Too often they have 
resigned their judgment to some queer fancy, or superstition, 
or fatally narrow creed. They have insisted that Shake- 
speare was all this, and all that, and not seen that he was 
both this and that. They have attempted to arrange all 
difficulties by some single test that can only, ^t the best, 
serve as the humble ally of better methods. A strange 
motley group they form, if one pictures them all together on 
one field. . In the midst there stands the colossal figure of 
the great poet, his head rising out pf sight into the clouds. 
Around his feet his interpreters disport themselves like so 
many preternaturally grave boys — young heads on old 
shoulders. One of exceptional vigour has managed to 
climb up as far as the knee of the statue, which he is con- 
vinced is its shoulder, and this conviction he is proclaiming 
with wild gesticulations to an enthusiastic mob below. 
Others are amazingly busy with its clothes and the general cos- 
tume. To hear them orate on Shakespeare's boots, you would 
think those integuments were of more moment than the feet 
inside them ; and that anything might possibly be said of 
his cap, or the head it covered, would seem a quite irrelevant 
notion. Then the volumes on his doublet and hose ! Ah ! 
what a theme ! Whose heart would not leap up at it? But 
it is too vast for one mind to comprehend. So men tell 
themselves off for special investigations. Who does not 
know the great authority on Shakespeare's buttons ? Then 
his "points" — what a marvellous work that is on that 
thrilling theme ! And his gloves — how that luminous 
treatise on his gloves astonished everybody with its learning, 
acumen, imagination ! For many people it is not too much 
to say that the chapter on the thumb of the right hand made 


an epoch in their lives. Meanwhile, as we have said, the 
clouds, enfold the upper part of this huge form. It may be 
noticed that the greater part of the multitude below have 
been conveyed to the spot on hobby-horses of the stoutest 

There are happily other critics of a far different race. 
These stand afar off, and yet see more. They shrink from 
the dictatorial ignorance of that remarkable crowd, as also 
from the fatuous misdirection of its idolatry. They are con- 
tent ta study, not to dogmatize. They are thoroughly 
conscious of the immensity of the subject, and would as soon 
be guilty of the arrogance of finally estimating it by their 
own puny standards as of measuring the heavens with a 
two-foot rule. 

These latter critics will rejoice in the invaluable contribu- 
tion to Shakespearian study that has just reached us from 
the United States. And for those others, with their crude 
theories and ever-ready dogmatisms, let them bethink them- 
selves, if that is possible, for no more fatal enemy to their 
race has ever yet appeared. 

The Concordance to Shakespear^s Poems is a worthy com- 
panion to The Complete Concordance to Shakespeare^ being a 
Verbal Index to all the Passages in the Dramatic Works of 
the Poet. It too is the work of a lady, the wife of one whose 
Variorum Shakespeare is making him everywhere known and 
distinguished. We do not think we exaggerate when we 
say that no two more effective and inestimable helps to real 
Shakespearian criticism exist than the volumes for which we 
are so deeply indebted to Mrs. Cowden Clarke and Mrs. 
Horace Howard Furness. We welcome the newly-arrived 
one with the utmost heartiness. It is like the coming of a 
fresh breeze that will never cease to blow, to blow away the 
foolish phantasies that are perpetually issuing from the brains 



of ill-informed guess-mongers, to blow strength and vigour 
into all criticisms that are genuine births of knowledge and 
judgment, and of a sound and healthful nature. 

We are bound to notice specially that it is to two women 
that we owe these treasuries of classified fact. The ordinary 
conception of " the sex " may justly be disturbed by this 
phenomenon: The masculine exploit of Cruden has been • 
equalled by feminine industry. Why may not a lady Liddell- 
and-Scott, or a Johnsoness, be looked for in the process of 
the ages ? " The perfecter sex," as Milton is pleased to call 
the male kind, may well look to itself; or> more wisely, 
rejoice that fresh workers have come into the field. For 
new lines of Shakespearian study are perpetually opening, 
and fresh help is perpetually wanted for the exploration of 

** Well may we labour still to dress 
This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower. 
Our pleasant task enjoined ; but, till more hands 
Aid us, the work under our labour grows. *' 

Mrs. Fumess has executed her task with unsparing dili- 
gence. She has recorded every word that occurs in the 
Poems. Even a has been tabulated. In this respect her 
work is more complete than that of her predecessor, though, 
as she remarks with kindly considerateness, no " imperfec- 
tion is hereby imputed to Mrs. Clarke's invaluable Concor- 
dance of the Dramas. The bulk of that work was a suflS- 
. cient bar to the plan I have been enabled to follow in the 
lesser task before me." In another matter the new Concor- 
dance is the exacter : Mrs. Furness gives the number of the 
line in which each word occurs. Those who have spent 
precious minutes in hunting through long scenes in the 
plays, will be grateful for this definiteness. Of course it can 
scarcely be hoped that the references are absolutely accurate. 



" As the pages are stereotyped," says Mrs. Fumess, " cor- 
rections can be made at any time of misprints, against which 
it seems no human vigilance can guard, and I shall be 
grateful to the kindness that will notify me of them." A 
quite faultlessly printed book is said never yet to have been 
issued from any press. Humanum est errare. Errata will 
happen. So much must be allowed ; but we must say thatj 
so far as our own use of the volume is concerned, and it has 
already been considerable, we have detected no .flaw in the 

It is )ust possible a word or two may have been acciden- 
tally omitted ; but in this respect, too, the work, so far as 
we have tested it, seems to us a wonder of completeness. 
We will venture to extend Mrs. Furness' appeal, and hope 
that any of our readers who find any fault whatever in this 
minute directory will favour her with the information. 

By the Poems are to be understood all the non- dramatic 
works that are usually connected with Shakespeare's name. 
Mrs. Furness follows the text of the Cambridge edition, 
from which " with the exception of some trifling deviations 
in punctuation," she reprints the poems at the end of her 
volume, for the sake of convenient reference. And in so 
using the title Poems in this sense, she has acted wisely, 
though by so doing ^he includes several pieces that are 
almost certainly not by Shakespeare. It was not her 
business in this cataloguing to settle or to entertain questions 
of authenticity. It would be as unwarrantable to complain 
of her having admitted into her index " Live with me and 
be my love," as to accuse Mrs. Cowden Clarke of negligence 
for having excluded The Two Noble Kinsmen. 


(From the Athenceum for Sept 12th, 1874.) 

This work supplies an undoubted want, and, we are happy 
to .add, supplies it in an admirable manner. To those who 
know little or nothing of Shakespearian difficulties — of the 
vexed and vexatious questions of authenticity that beset the 


thorough student, or of the perpetual troubles that are con- 
nected with the great dramatist's vocabulary — it may, per- 
haps, seem a waste of labour to have chronicled with all 
possible pains and accuracy every word that occurs in his 
poems. The sole use that a Concordance serves for such 
persons is that it enables them to find a quotation. Mrs. 
Cowden Clarke's famous compilation is valuable in their 
eyes on this account only ; and such an end may well seem 
' to fail in justifying the means, seeing that the means involve 
weariness, and painfulness, and watchings. But far other is 
the estimate of such productions that is made by the student. 
Familiar as he is with the wild assertions incessantly volun- 
teered as to what is Shakespeare's and what is not, he is pro- 
foundly grateful for any help in analyzing the genuine work 
of the poet. The existence of Concordances, and the judi- 
cious use of them, might have stifled half the follies of which 
many a criticaster has been proudly guilty. And the age of 
criticasters is not past ; perhaps, indeed, it is only now fully 
come. The effrontery of these gentlemen is amazing. They 
" have no bands " in their statements. Conscience never 
makes a coward of them. Now, against such persons what 
is the antidote ? How are we to disinfect ourselves and get 
rid of them ? Th^ unfailing antiseptic is facts. They can- 
not away with facts ; only let facts be laid about everywhere, 
and they will soon be extirpated. For them and their kind 
it is difficult to conceive a more deadly book than a Concor- 


dance. It is mere hemlock. " By my troth," they " cannot 
abide the smell of it." The appearance, therefore, of a com- 
panion volume to that of Mrs. Clarke is really a memoxable 

The new volume is in shape uniform with the valuable 
"Variorum Shakespeare" now issuing by the husband of 
the compiler. In point of topography there is nothing to be 

It contains a short record of every word occurring in the 
Poems, even of prepositions and conjunctions ; in short, of 
every word without exception. The tabulation of ihe, for 
instance, occupies no less than twenty columns. 

" As it is impossible," runs the preface, " to limit the pur- 
poses for which the language of Shakespeare may be studied, 
or to say that the time will not come, if it has not already, 
when his use of every part of speech, down to the humblest 
conjunction, will be criticized with as much nicety as has 
been* bestowed upon Greek and Latin authors, it seems to 
me that in the selection of words to be recorded no discre- 
tionary powers should be granted to the * harmless drudge ' 
compiling a Concordance. 

" Within a year or two a German scholar has published a 
pamphlet of some fifty pages on Shakespeare's use of the 
|iuxiliary verb to do, and Abbott'5 Grammar shows with what 
success the study of Shakespeare's language in its minutest 
particulars may be pursued. I have therefore cited in the 
following pages every word in his Poems." 

Also the number of the line, not only the number of the 
poem, in which each word occurs is given, a detail which 
will save the explorer many a minute. In these two re- 
spects, Mrs. Fumess's work is more exact than that of Mrs. 
Cowden Clarke. In ohe way it is less complete; but no 
one will grudge the difference. 


'* Having adopted," says Mrs. Fumess, " the rule of re- 
cording every word, I thought it needless expenditure of 
space to insert in every instance the entire line in which a 
word occurs. I have given the clause in which the word 
stands, and the number of the line, and then, that nothing 
may be wanting to the convenience of the student, the 
Poems themselves are reprinted at the end. If in any 
case the citations appear meagre, the original is instantly 

Mrs. Fumess's design is most satisfactory; happily the 
execution is n6 less so. Of course it is improbable that 
there are not some few errors, both of omission and com- 
mis.sion. Mrs. Fumess is as conscious of this possibility as 
her " dearest foe " — only there cannot be any such monster 
— could be. "As the pages are stereotyped," she writes, 
" corrections' can be made at any time of inisprints, against 
which it seems no human vigilance can guard, and I shall 
be grateful to the kindness that will notify me of them.^' It 
would indeed be a marvel if every entry was faultless, or if 
no claimant for enrolment had been overlooked ; for there 
are some thirty-three thousand entries, each one consisting 
of several words, and from one to five figures. Surely the 
most "flanging" judge in the world would be lenient in 
such a case, and wink with the utmost readiness at an occa- 
sional slip of the pen or the compositor's fingers. 

** Ubi plura nitent in carmina, non ego paucis • 
Offendar maculis quas aut incuria fudit, 
Aut humana parum cavit natura."* 

We say that everybody would be willing to show indulgence 
towards such a minute register. Mrs. Cowden Clarke, with 
all her excellence, is not independent of indulgence. . But 
we must not speak as if Mrs. Furness stood in special need 


df consideration. So far as we have at present used her 
work, we have only found reason to be astonished at the 
accuracy with which it is executed. 

We may just add, that by the ** Poems," Mrs. Fumess 
means the pieces usually printed along with Shakespeare's 
plays. Some of them are not by Shakespeare; but Mrs. 
Fumess has done well, we think, in following the popular 
attribution. Those to whom her Concordance will be most 
useful are in no danger of being misguided. 

We heartily thank Mrs. Furness for her work. It is a 
credit to herself, to her sex, and to her nation. Properly 
considered, it is a most valuable contribution to true Shake- 
spearian study, by the side of which much of what passes 
for Shakespearian lore is shown in its full worthlessness. 




(From the Academy for March 20, 1875.) 

THE time has long gone by when it was the fashion to 
speak of a German as some inferior being. With us 
of to-day to say that " Hermann " was " a German " would 
rather exalt than lower the claims of the said Hermann to 
be listened to with all attention and respect. With regard 
to Shakespeare particularly, to whose highest interpretation 
Germans have already contributed so nobly, one cannot but 
receive with especial interest any fresh offering of German 
scholarship. It is easy to laugh at certain features in their 
criticism, and occasionally to wish for an explanation of 
their explanations ; but it is not easy to over-estimate our 
obligations to them for raising the general tone of Shake- 
spearian study, and helping to rescue us from a danger that 
seems ever imminent in England of forgetting the spirit in 
the letter. Textualism, and verbiage, and archaeology are 
pursuits whose importance none would deny ; but we want 
continually reminding that for the real comprehension of 
Shakespeare these, taken altogether, do not constitute the 
. end, but are only the means, or rather some of the means, 
to the end. Certainly, whatever mistakes the German may 

^ Shakespeare- Lexicon, A complete Dictionary of all the English 
JVordSy Phrases y and Constructions in Works of the Poet, By Dr. 
Alexander Schmidt. Vol. I. A — L. (Berlin : Georg Reimer. Lon- 
don : Williams and Norgate, 1874 and 1875.) 


make concerning our great poet, in whatever mists he may 
seem to enfold him — 

* »> 

as the bewildered Briton so commonly cries — however im- 
possible may be his exegeses in the vulgar opinion, he does 
not commit the fatal blunder of treating the plays as mere 
nwrtua corpora, and ignoring the living soul that bums with 
greater or less intensity in every one of them. And this 
fact is at last gaining a full recognition. Also we are be- 
ginning to see that the German school is not antagonistic to 
the English, but supplementary to it, and to value mor^ 
fairly efforts and achievements in a line of investigation we 
have ourselves too much neglected. 

The more these two great schools understand each other, 
the better must be the result. Undoubtedly each has some- 
thing to learn from the other. Perhaps the work, or instal- 
ment of the work, whose appearance we have to. notice in 
this paper may be taken as a sign that Germany is purposed 
not to neglect the methods hitherto more particularly fol- 
lowed in this country and the United States. Dr. Schmidt's 
work in the first place aims at being a complete concordance. 
But it does more than the excellent works of Mrs. Cowden 
Clarke and Mrs. Howard Furness : it classifies the occur- 
rences of each word according to the sense, so that it is, in 
short, a concordance and a glossary combined. Assuredly 
no work could be less liable to the charge of nebulosity. It 
may be well or ill executed ; but there is no mysticism about 
it. It is as matter of fact as the multiplication table. 

We are glad to say that the work is executed with great 
care and accuracy. It is no wonder if the English is not 
always quite faultless — e.g,y s.v. Cater cousins. Dr. Schmidt 
speaks of " persons who peaceably /<?^// together ^^ — but even 


in this respect one cannot complain, but may rather admire. 
The definitions are expressed with clearness and without 
pretence. The arrangement is satisfactory. The type is all 
that could be wished. On the whole, the work is a very 
valuable help to thorough Shakespearian study. 

We quote one or two specimens, that our readers may 
judge for themselves : — 


** Cockney, as it seems, a person who Icnows only the life and man- 
ners of the town, and is consequently well-acquainted with affected 
phrases, but a strangef to what every child else knows : this great lub- 
ber , the world, will prove a c, Tw. IV. I, 15. Cry to it, as the c, did 
fo the eels when she put \m € the paste alive, Lr. II. 4, 123." 

^^ Eke, adv. also (used only by Pistol, the Host, and Flute), Wiv. I. 
3, 105 ; II. 3, 77 ; Mids. III. I, 97." . 

** Eysell, vinegar : I will drink potions of e, Against my. strong infec- 
tion, Sonn. Ill, 10 (vinegar being esteemed efficacious in preventing 
the communication of the plague and other contagious distempers). 
Wodt weep? wodt fights wooU fasfi wodt tear thyself^ JVoot drink 
up d eat a crocodiled Hml. V. i, 299 (Qq. esill, Ff. esile in italics ; 
Keightley Yssel, Hanmer Nile, Capell Nilus, About to drink up = to 
drink ; see Drink and Up, Hamlet's questions are apparently ludi- 
crous, and drinking vinegar, in order to exhibit deep grief by a wry 
face, seems much more to the purpose than drinking up rivers. As for 
the crocodile, it must perhaps be remembered that it is a mournful 
animal ; cf. H6B III., i, 226, and Oth. IV. i, 257)." 

The idea that the feats Hamlet volunteers should be perti- 
nent to the occasion has, perhaps, not been considered 
enough by those who have dealt with this vexed passage. 

Such is. the general character of this work. Anything of 
the kind so exhaustive has never before been attempted. 
The labour involved is obviously prodigious; but Dr. 
Schmidt has faced it boldly. Sudavit et cUsit. He has cer- 
tainly won the honour to which he* aspires. ^ " Der Verfasser 
hat keiner grossern Ehrgeiz — wenn es einem Lexicographen 
erlaubt ist Ehrgeiz zu hegen — als den, auch eingebomen 


Englandem niitzlich sein zu konnen." Having thus ex- 
pressed our high opinion of this work, we may now, without 
any danger of misleading, point out respects in which we 
think it improvable. 

To turn to a few details, out of several that present them- 
. selves : — 

** Caiercausin^ quatre cousin, remote relation, misapplied by Gobbo 
to persons who peaceably feed together : his master and he are scarce — s 
Merch. IL 2, 139." 

No doubt cater suggests quatre^ and editors have perpetually 
yielded to the suggestion ; but, as there is no such phrase 
in French as qtiatre coustriy so far as is known, the result is 
- not of much value. It i§ a case of " ignotum per ignotius ; " 
for, whatever be the derivation there was, and is, such a 
phrase as cater cousin in English ; it is still in use in the pro- 
vinces; see Halliweirs Diet, of Frov, and Archaic Words, 
Is it impossible that the cater is connected with cate or cake^ 
cater, acater, caterer, &c., and that the word means simply 
mestfellow ? This explanation has been offered before ; it 
still requires confirmation. 

In the valuable article on // we are told in section 4, that 
it is " used for the def. article in the language of little chil- 
dren : ga to it grandam, child; it grandam will give it a 
plum, John II. L 160, 161." What exactly is meant ? Surely 
//here is either simply the archaic form, which was in Shake- 
speare's age in the course of supersession by its; or else, 
the context considered, it is meant to be a piece of broken 
language— of nursery English — of child's talk. 

We are told that interest in Macbeth i. 2, 64 : — 

" No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive 
Our bosom interest." 

That interest means "concern, advantage," as in Lear, v. 3. 
85. We commend to Dr. Schmidt's notice, the interpreta- 



tion given by the editors of the edition of Macbeth published 
by the Clarendon Press. ^^ Bosom interest, close and inti- 
mate affection ;" and then follow some well-chosen quota- 
tions to illustrate the senses of both bosom and interest. In 

King Lear, i. i, 87: — 

"to whose young love 
The wines of France and milk of Burgundy 
Strive to be interest d^ 

Dr. Schmidt, it seems, prefers to read interested, and gives 
as an equivalent " to found a claim ! " " M. Edd.," Le. 
Modern Editors, "preposterously interess^dJ* Why "pre- 
posterously ?" 

(From the Aihencmm for March 25, 1876.) 

Many glossarists and concordance-makers have done good 
service, but Dr. Alexander Schmidt excels them all. It is 
really difficult to over-estimate the usefulness and value of 
his performance. Germany has long been famous for its 
services to the study of our great poet ; but they have for 
the most part — we do not forget Dr. Delius and his admir- 
able labours — been services in the w^y of what is called 
aesthetic criticism and interpretation. In the volumes now 
before us Germany makes a splendid contribution to quite 
another line of exploration. The indefatigable industry for 
which that country is famous has produced a compilation 
hitherto unattempted, and has produced it, we think, with 
singular accuracy and success. 

The speciality of Dr. Schmidt's lexicon is this — it is both 
a concordance and a glossary. Moreover, as a concordance, 
it includes the words, not only of the plays, but of the 


poems. It may be briefly described as a concordance, in 
which the words are provided with definitions, and where 
in the case of words used in various stnses these uses are 
arranged in groups. • It is not a mere catalogue, but a cata- 
logue raisonnL But even this account scarcely does the 
wdrk justice, /or, incidentally, much other inforniation or 
suggestion is given, besides .the bare signification or signifi- 
cations, and the occurrences of every vocable. Lastly, there 
are appendices containing "grammatical observations," 
** provincialisms," " words and sentences taken from foreign 
languages," " list of the words forming the latter part in com- 
positions." To use the stereotyped phrase, this is an aid to 
tKe study of our great dramatist that no -scholar should be 

As to the plays, the words of which are registered. Dr. 
Schmidt has not fallen into the error, or at least has not 
acted upon it, committed with enthusiasm, of some of his 
countrymen, of recognizing all the additional plays found in 
the two later folios as genuine. He deals with the thirty-six 
plays of the first two folios — " the two first folios," as he has 
it, — together with Pericles, For thus limiting his collection, 
it is not likely that any competent critic in England will 
quarrel with him. He has also shown, in our opinion, a 
wise discretion in leaving out both Edward III. and The 
Two Noble Kinsmen. With regard to Shakespeare's connec- 
tion with both these plays, the question must be pronounced 
still open. Indeed, few really capable critics have yet 
spoken iipon it ; and such is the nature of the evidence by 
which it must be decided, that critics worthy to be heard 
upon it are, and must always be, extremely rare. In fact it 
is a question not likely ever to be settled beyond contro- 
versy. " The stage directions, too, even those of the earhest 
editions, have been left unnoticed, as it appeared more than 


doubtful whether they were written 'by Shakspeare himself." 
Another praiseworthy feature in these volumes is that they 
record the readings of both the folios and the qilartos, where, 
quarto editions are extant. They exclude, however, " those 
quartos which the editors of the first folio meant when 
speaking of stolen and surreptitioui^ copies, maimed and de* 
formed by the frauds and stealths of injurious impostors," 
namely, the quartos of The Merry Wives and Henry V.j the 
first part of The Contention^ The True Tragedy ^ and the 
earliest impressions of Romeo and Juliet (1597), and of 
Hamlet (1603). " Their variations," adds Dr. Schmidt, "are 
at the best, of the same weight as the conjectures of modem 
emendators." Ds, Schmidt says he excludes these quartos, 
" of course." We confess we see no " of course " in the 
matter, or at least in some parts of it, as in the case of the 
1603 Hamlet ; but here, too, we are brought face to face 
with one of the most difficult Shakespearian questions that 
there are. We do not say Dr. Schmidt is mistaken in acting 
as he does, but the question is not one to be disposed of 
with an " of course." But it would be wrong to use hard 
words to one who deserves so well of us as Dr. Schmidt 

" To make the poet his own interpreter, by discarding all 
preconceived opinions, and subordinating all adventitious 
means of information to those offered by himself, was 
throughout the principle of the work. What Aristarchus 
did for Homer, and* Galen for Hippocrates, was yet to be 
done fo.r Shakespeare." And then follows a highly pertinent 
quotation from Galen, which is too long to re-quote here. A 
Shakespearian student may certainly share Galen's wtonder : 
o0€i/, he concludes, after describing what a proper exegesis 
should comprehend, — t/xotye koI Oavfid^eiv eirriXde riav iwatray 
s^riyelaQrj rrjv 'iTntoKpdrovQ Xi^u) iirayyuXafxevuv u /xrj (rvvi- 
aaffir oti vXeIu) TrapaXUirovaiv iv ZihaaKOvaiv, 


That the principle Dr. Schmidt announces in the words just 
quoted is sound and laudable there can be no dispute. But • 
it may be pressed too far. And once qr twice Dr. Schmidt 
is in danger of so pressing it. It is certainly not enough in 
discussing any special sense of a word, to say that it* does 
not occur elsewhere in Shakespeare in that sense. At times 
what Dr. Schmidt terms " adventitious means of informa- 
tion " must undoubtedly be called in ; for, as is well known, 
Shakespeare's vocabulary is of immense range and variety. 
It is always ramifying, and extending, and expanding. 
There is nothmg more remarkable about our great poet 
than his unceasing movement He is never as one that has 
already attained perfection, or is already perfect ; but he 
" follows after." His artistic form is perpetually changing. 
He is ever essaying new methods, conquering new worlds ; 
ever striving to hold the mirror up to nature with a firmer 
hand, so as to secure a more steady and faithful image. . 
Hence, to return to his language, there is in his writings a 
vast nunaber of ^Traf Xcyd/xcva— of words that occur only 
once, and of word senses that occur only once. To take 
an example, Dr. Schmidt objects to " smote " in Hamlet y 

I. i. 63 : 

" When in an angry parle, 
He smote the sledded pollax {fn- poleaxe) oh the ice." 

(we give the reading given in the lexicon) being interpreted 
" he beat or defeated ;" he says it can only mean, " he struck 
them." But the use of "smote " in the sense of defeated is 
common enough in other Elizabethan writings, notably in 
the Bible, as in Judges xv. 8 : " And he [Samson] smote 
them [the Philistines] hip and thigh, with a great slaughter." 
Cranmer*s Bible has " smote " here ; and it is worth noticing 
in this connection that there are several " scripturisms^' in 
Hamlet. Again, one of Dr. Schmidt's objections to " putter 


out,'^ in Tempest^ III. iil 48, meaning one that lays out 
.money, is that "put. out" is .not used by Shakespeare in 
this sense; and he holds that "putter out " meaHs a traveller, 
one that puts out to sea ! Now it may well be that Shake- 
speare does not happen to use "put out" elsewhere in the 
sense of Horace's ponere. in Epod. ii. 70 ; but the phrase is 
most usual in our language at all times. Thus, to quote 
from Johnson, Psalm xv. : "Lord, who shall abide in thy 
tabernacle ? . . . He that putteth not out his money to usury." 
Dryden translates the lines of Horace referred to : — 

** To live retired upon his own, ' 
He called — ^his money in ; 
« But the prevailing love of pelf 
Soon split him on the former shelf, 
He/«/ it <w/ again." 

It is clear, we hope, that the desigp of these volumes, 
though there may be slight imperfections, is truly excellent 
Obviously, the most essential point in the execution of such 
a design is accuracy. It is obvious, too, that one cannot 
bestow this praise upon such a work till after long and fre- 
quent use. All we can say is that, so far as we have at pre- 
sent used it, we have found it deserve the very highest com- 
mendation in this respect. The use of " these " in " O dear 
Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers," is not noted, but similar 
uses are so. With regard to other matters, one is reminded 
sometimes that it is a foreigner's English one sees before 
one, as when a Threshotd (misprinted Treshold) is defined 
to be " the plank that lies at the bottom of a door ; " but 
even in this respect there is little to complain of. One re- 
dundancy catches our eye, s. v. Sqimrey where the well- 
known King Lear phrase is quoted, both under (i) and also 
under (3) ; but this may possibly be intentional. If so, how- 
• ever, the two references should have been connected by a 


see (3) and a see (i). It is somewhat bold to Atfin^ pilcher 
{Romeo and Juliet^ III. i. 84) as a scabbard, although " in con- 
tempt " is added. It means some sort of garment. We venture* 
to suggest that its use by Mercutio might *serve to illustrate 
the "breeched"— "their daggers unmannerly ^r<f<5r>^d^ with 
gore "—of Macbeth. "The ears " in Romeo and Juliet y which 
has tempted " emendators " to read " pitcher " is intelligible 
enough, if we remember what pilcher means. Dr. Schmidt 
thinks that subtlety in The Tempest, v. 124, has no culinary 
reference, but does not taste support Steevens's note ? 

** You yet do taste y 
Some subtilties of the isle that will not let you 
Believe things certain.*' 

As to three-suited in Lear II. ii. 16, Dr. Schmidt objects to 
the ordinary interpretation, and suggests that " perhaps we 
have here a trace of a custom once reigning among the 
peasantry of Germany, to put on their whole wardrobe on 
festival occasions, one suit above another ;" but surely Ben 
Jonson's expression in The Silent Woman, qu6ted by Singer, 
" Wert a pitiful fellow . . . and having nothing but three suits 
ofapparelj* &c., is against him. See also in that same play 
(Act iii. sc. i), where Mistress Otter addresses her captain, jusl 
entered "with his cups": " Who gives you your maintenance ; 
and, pray you, who allows jou your horse meat and man's meat? 
your three suits of apparel a year, your four pair of stockings 
—one silk, three worsted ? " &c. The phrase is explained by 
the fact that Elizabethan wardrobes were of prodigious ex- 
tent " I know the man as well as you," is an ambiguous 
rendering of " Novi hominem tanquam te." With regard to 
the dialectic speeches in King Lear, Steevens, writes Dr. 
Schmidt, " pleads for Somersetshire, in the dialect of which 
rustics were commonly introduced by ancient writers." 


Steevens did not know, but we now do, that the so-called 
" Somersetshire " dialect spread once all over the south of 
the island. In Kent and Surrey once f s and s's were 
flattened, a fact pointed out years ago by Dr. Guest ; see 
his History of English Rhythms ^ ii. i88. Is it not rather 
comical to treat " a " in " and merrily hent the stile a," and 
such uses, as a remnant of Anglo-Saxon suffixes ? 

Criticisms of this sort might be considerably extended, 
but it is not necessary. They will suggest themselves to all 
intelligent persons who consult Dr. Schmidt's work; and 
they are not of a kind seriously to impair the value of this 
excellent lexicon, for which we beg to thank its compiler 




(From ^<t' Academy for June 1 6, 1877.) 

THE good Shakespearian service that Germany has done 
by its verbal criticisms is so well known that we turn 
with interest to a volume in which it attempts interpretation 
of another kind. Not that we have in it Germany's first 
attempts in the pictorial illustration of -the supreme Teutonic 
— the supreme human — poet. Retzsch and Kaulbach are 
no strange names to us. But this volume is in a special 
sense represenjtative, as it contains the designs of no less 
than six distinguished German artists ; and as these are 
living artists, "it may be considered," as Prof. Dowden justly 
remarks, " in a measure to represent the contemporary art- 
movement of that country. Munich must be regarded as 
the centre around which the artists whose work appears in 
this volume are grouped ; but each has his own distinctive 
traits, and they have been brought under the influence — 
one in Rome, aribther in Paris, a third in the Dresden gal- 
leries — of various art-methods, ideas, and traditions." 
Certainly, in England, our comprehension of Shakespeare 

^ Shakespeare Scenes and Charcu:ters, A Series of Illustrations de- 
signed by Adams, Hofmann, Makart, Pecht, Schwoerer, and Spiess ; 
engraved on steel by Barkel, Bauer, Goldberg, Raab, and Schmidt ; 
with Ebcplanatory Text selected and arranged by Prof. E. Dowden, 
LrL.D., Author of " Shakspere ; a Study of his Mind and Art." (Lon- 
don : Macmillan and Co., 1876.) 


is not very seriously indebted to the painter's art: Occa- 
sional caricatures appear on the walls of the -Royal Academy 
which we find connected in the catalogue with scenes from 
the plays. And there are in the National Gallery one or 
two pictures that deserve to be spoken of in a more respect- 
ful manner. But, on the whole, we have not much in this 
line to thank our painters for. What shall be said of the • 
volume before us ? Do we finci in Hofmann, or any one of 
his fellows, any adequate intelligence and power? In many 
ways these designs merit very high praise. They evidence 
abundantly careful, conscientious, scholarly, accurate, refined 
workmanship. They are the fruits of no superficial or devo- 
tionless study. Few Shakespearian students may not derive 
help from them in conceiving the mere externals of the lives 
they exhibit ; and, what is more, few will rise from the in- 
spection of them without a deepened, if an unsatisfied, in- 
terest in those lives. A thoughtful picture, however far it 
may be from correspondence with our own ideal, may yet be 
stimulating and serviceable ; and these may be described as 
thoughtful, as well as learned, pictures. Whether in other 
important respects they gan be pronounced successful may 
be doubted. They seem to us deficient, or inclined to be 
deficient, in humour, in sprightliness, in passion, and at 
times in grace ; and we turn from them to the originals as 
we see them, with a wonder at the difference. 

"And tliat*s your Venus ! — whence we turn 
To yonder girl that fords the burn." 

Take Adams's Falstaff in his illustration of the famous scene 
at the Boar's Head, where the fat Knight recounts his adven- 
tures at Gadshill. The other figures are satisfactory enough 
— Poins and Peto grinning delightedly at the lies that flow 
so readily, and Bardolph gazing at their author with the. 


admiration that afterwar/ls made him say : " Would I were 
with him, wheresome'er he is, either in heaven or in hell." 
But can that be Falstaff ? Could that face, which might 
Serve with slight modification for Chaucer's Franklin, be- 
long to the immortal wit? The "gross fat man" might 
have looked so respectable once perhaps^in that golden 
age when he was ** virtuous enough, swore little, diced not 
above seven times a week." But it would be insulting, not 
** chaff," to call such a personage " that old whitebearded 
Satan." (His beard is, in fact, denied him.) Quite different, 
but not more successful, we think, is Makart's portrait in his 
illustration oi \!iMt Merry Wives. It is, indeed, something 
repulsive, and such as to make the whole affair incredible. 
(Mrs. Ford's left foot in this design seems to.stand in a very 
odd relation to her body.) As to sprightliness, take Adam's 
Beatrice. It is a somewhat solid figure, with lack-sparkle 
eyes so far as can be seen, " sober, steadfast, and demure," 
** la pensierosa," not " I'allegra." And so Schworer's Puck, 
that " shrewd and knavish " sprite " — that " merry wanderer 
of the night," who ** jests to Oberon and makes him smile," 
appears as a sad-faced youth, who might be placing a flower 
on Titania's deathrchilled brow instead of playing some wild 
trick as she sleeps. As to intensity and passion, we must 
often cry " not content." Take, for instance, the two illus- 
trations of KingJohUy both by Adams. His Constance does 
not wildly abandon herself to her sorrow. She seems look- 
ing round to see what others are doing— "perhaps to see 
whether the kings are coming to bow to her throne — instead 
of lying 

*' At random, carelessly diffused, 
With languished head unpropt, 
As one past hope abandoned, 
And by himself given over." 

As for the scene between Hubert and Arthur, it is for all the 


world like an interview between a small patient and a some- 
what grim dentist Hubert, a most resolute-looking Teuton, 
has placed his left hand on the bo/s head, to hold it back 
and to incline it ; in his right he holds an instrument of a 
curious shape — really, we suppose, an eye-gouge, but which 
at the first glance may well pass for something much more 
familiar. For gracefulness, what a plentiful lack of it in 
Pecht's illustration of 2 Henry IV, iv. 5, when the dying 
king gives his son ** the very latest counsel that ever he will 
breathe." Hal, negligently yet awkwardly leaning on the 
table where rests the crown, with his left hand upon his hip, 
by no means allures us. We wish the hinges of his knees, 
alsq those of his back, were morei " pregnant." We doubt 
whether he is listening to those last paternal advices. His 
heart must be with his eyes — ^far away, not perhaps at the 
Boar's Head, but across the seas perchance, in France. But 
surely it ought to be in the chamber with that poor " shaken," 
care-worn, conscience-pricked figure, which is rapidly going 
" into the earth." So in Spiess' tomb-scene firom Romeo and 
Juliet^ there is something grotesque in the form of Tybalt — 
or is it Paris ? — with his head propped up against the marble 
whereon Juliet has been laid ; nor do we think Romeo will 
attract many admirers. He was, it seems, a very " plain '*" 
young man, with thick matted hair. 

As to the letterpress that accompanies the illustrations, 
its selection and arrangement could scarcely have been en- 
trusted to fitter hands than Prof. Dowden's, so wide is his 
acquaintance with Shakespearian literature both abroad and 
at home, and so tolerant and at the same time discriminating 
is his judgment. In this respect certainly the volume is 
eminently representative not of England only, or of Germany 
only, but of both these countries, and America and France 
to boot. Such a cnticdl floriiegium was well worth marking, 
and we thank Prof. Dowden for making it. 


■ XIII. 



(From the Academy for April 8, 1876.) 

IT may seem at first an idle paradox to say that there is a 
great want of a readable edition of Shakespeare, and 
also of the Bible, if without offence we may mention together 
works of such different interest and position. And yet is it 
not so ? Commonly the form is double-columned, and the 
type small. Probably no two volumes have so much to 
answer for in respect of the weak eyesight which is said to 
be becoming more and more prevalent. A fine result of 
Biblical and of dramatic, studies, if they are to make us 
blind ! Why should it always be thought of such impor- 
tance to compress . such writings into the smallest space 
possible ? Of the Bible, is there any readable edition-r-ooe 
in good type, not double-columned, not divided into chap- 
ters and verses ?• Surely this is what is called a Desideratum. 
And for Shakespeare things are better perhaps'; byt yet far 

* TTu Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare. With Biographical 
Introduction. By Henry Glassford Bell. Six Volumes. (London and 
Glasgow: William CoUins, Sons and Co., 1875.) 

_ The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare. The Text care^lly 
revised with Notes. By S. W. Singer, F.S.A. With a Life by W. 
Watkiss Lloyd. Ten Volumes. (London : George Bell and Sons, 


Critical Essays on the Plays of 'Shakespeare. By William Watkiss 

Lloyd. j(London : George Bell and Sons, 1875.) 


from well. Shakespeare, Shakespeare everywhere; but 
seldom, if ever, a good edition to read. 

. Of the reprints now before us, neither supplies this want, 
though both have merits. That published by Messrs. 
Collins would go far to satisfy us, if only it were issued in 
twelve volumes instead of six, and the. t)npe were a little 
larger, and the text, about which no information is given, 
carefully revised 1 Even as it is, we welcome it. What 
specially recommends it from our present point of view is 
that there are no note^. It is certainly ttue of Shakespeare, 
as of the Bible, that the text is not enough studied by itself. 
We are so beset with commentators that it is difficult to get 
at the work itself. All along the various approaches to the 
shrine they are posted in dense array, with their handbooks 
and guides and keys. It is a great blessing occasionally to 
'"be delivered from these busy gentlemen — to be left alone 
with Shakespeare himself. It is like going round the 
chapels at Westminster, as happily, thanks to Dr. Stanley, 
one can now do, without a cicerone to spoil everything with 
his intrusive information or ignorance. 

" Let him,'^ says Dr. Johnson (and Mr. H. Glassford Bell 
pertinently reminds us of his words), " that is yet unacquain- 
ted with the powers of Shakespeare, and who desires to feel 
the highest pleasure that the drama can -give, read every 
play, from the first scene to the last, with utter negligence 
of all his commentators. When his fancy is once on the 
wing, let it not stoop to correction or explanation. When 
his attention is strongly engaged, let it disdain alike to turn 
aside to the name of Theobald and of Pope. Let him read 
on, through brightness and obscurity, through integrity, and 
corruption ; let him preserve 'his comprehension of the dia- 
logue and his interest in the fable. And when the pleasures 
of novelty have ceased, let him attempt exactness, and read 


the commentators. Particular passages are cleared by notes, 
but the general effect of the work is weakened. The mind is 
refrigerated by interruption ; the thoughts are diverted from 
the principal subject ; the reader is weary, he suspects not; 
why ; and at last throws away the book which he has too 
diligently studied. Parts are not to be examined till the 
whole has been surveyed ; there is a kind of intellectual re- 
moteness necessary for the comprehension of any great 
work in its full design and in its true proportions ; a close 
approach shows the smaller niceties, but the beauty of the 
whole is discerned no longer* It is not very grateful," he 
adds, " to consider how little the succession of editors ha^ 
added to this author's power of pleasing. He was read, 
admired, studied and imitated, while he was yet deformed 
with all the improprieties which ignorance and neglect could 
accumulate upon him, while the reading was yet not recti- 
fied, nor his allusions understood." 

These words, are well worth Weighing at a time when, 
perhaps, there is some danger of treating Shakespeare as a 
mere platform for the* display of antiquarian lore, of critical 
ingenuity, of super-subtle exegesis. Shakespeare is sore of 
many another besides Theobald. To some persons he would 
seem to be merely an immense tangle, which it is their high 
vocation to unravel and arrange; Because they find a thread 
or two loose here and there, they are unable to see the mag- 
nificence and the perfection of the pattern that lies before 
them, worked with immortal skill and unfading brilliancy. 

This reprint of the late Mr. H. Glassford Bell's edition is 
welcome, then, for its absolute notelessness, there being at 
the present time a *' plentiful lack " of noteless editions in a 
readable form. The only pages not occupied by the plays 
are devo.ted to a ** Biographical Introduction," which, 
indeed, might be dispensed with, but in its kind is written 


both with knowledge and taste. It should in any case have 
been revised before its reproduction. It relies upon those 
" New Facts " which have turned out to be New Fictions ; 
see especially pp. xiv., xlviii., Ixxxiii. And some curious 
statements occur. Is it not quite a wild thing to say that 
** high literature and high art rarely or never reflect their 
own age " ? What do they reflect, then ? What can Hamlet 
mean when he says that the " purpose of playing," "both at 
the first and now, was and is to hold, as 'twere, the mirror 
up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own 
image, and the very age and body of the time his form and 
pressure'*^ 1 King Lear was not printed in •1603, and for 
certain reasons could not possibly have been so. Th6 
statement on p. Ixxi. is inaccurate, as Othello was published 
in 1622. Richard was the son, not the biother, of James 
Burbage (p. xlv.). It was not on the boards of the Black- 
friars Theatre that Shakespeare " first appeared " (p. xlv.). 
It should not be asserted as a fact that Shakespeare carhe to 
London the year Sir Philip Sidney died (p. xxiv.). What is 
" the Greek peplon " (p. Ixxi v.) ? There is in late Greek a 
plural TTcVXa, and there is in Latin a iorva peplum as well as 
peplus ; but peplon can scarcely be defended. Again, 
Pericles, "though an early production, is entirely Shake- 
spearian." What an extraordinary announcement ! On the 
whole, however, this Biographical Introduction deserves 
reading. ^ 

The other reprint before us is annotated. It must by no 
means be understood from what we have said that notes are 
always to be despised. What w:e have been protesting 
. against is their omnipresence and omnipotence. In their 
. place they are highly desirable. The late Mr. Singer's notes 
are of well-known excellence, learned but not pedantic, 
suggestive and informing without becoming trivial or intru- 


sive. To note in Latin means to brancj, and it is in this 
sense that some editors '* note " their authors. Pope has 
lately been ** noted *' in this sense, and Shakespeare often 
enough. In the last century, and since, the censors were 
for ever scoring their intelligent marks against his name. 
But it js not in this manner that Mr. Singer proceeds. When 
he criticises, he does so with proper humility. He is no 
rash or lavish corrector of the text, though on occasion he 
is not found wanting. His chief service is his illustrations, 
and the charm of these is their freshness and variety. He 
draws, water for himself straight from Elizabethan foun- 
tains — does not borrow it from a neighbour's cistern or tub. 
Each play has its " Preliminary Remarks," dealing with the 
date and the material, and like matters. The type of the 
text is of merciful size. Altogether, this is a capital edition 
of its sort. 

Of course offences will come ; but we will by no means 
on that account cry " Woe to Mr. Singer." Here are a few 
offences: his note on "Sandblind" {Merchant of Venice^ 
iL 2) is a quotation from Holyoke's Dictionary : " Having 
an imperfect sight, as if there was sand in the eye Myops ; " 
which looks odd enough through a "full stop" having 
dropi>ed out after the word " eye," and is surely a piece of 
but feeble etymology. Probably the sand, as has been sug- 
gested, is as the Anglo-Saxon sdm (the Latin semi, Greek 
4/ii), as in sdm-cwic, sdm-wis, &c. Again : " We learn from 
the account of the Revels at Court that it [the Merry Wives 
of Windsor] was acted before Jarpes I. on the Sunday fol- 
lowing the ist November, 1604." Do we? Or should it 
not rather be written, " We do not learn, &c." ? Again, is 
there not a want of humour in saying, apropos of ** I paid 
nothing for it neither, but was paid for my learning," "to 
pay in Shakespeare's time signified to beat ; in which sense it 



is still not uncomipon in familiar language. ' Seven of the 
eleven Ipaid* says Falstaff m Henry IV,, Part I." Again 
in Richard II,, i. i : — 

** Upon remainder of a dear account," 

is " dear," or " deere," " an evident press error for ' cleere ' " ? 
Dear in a welUknown Elizabethan usage makes ^excellent 
sense. Mr. Singer makes no alteration in Romeo and Juliet, 

i. 5 :— 

** O dear account ! my life is my foe's debt ; '* 

nor in Much Ado about Nothing, iv. i : — 

** By this hand Claudio shall render me a dear account " — 

passages aptly quoted by. the Clarendon Press editors. As 
to the date of Macbeth, there is no mention made of the 
passage in the Puritan first noticed, we think, by Farmer, 
which one can scatcely doubt refers to Banquo's Ghost : — 
"Come, my inestimable bullies," says Sir Godfrey, " we'll 
talk pf your, noble acts in sparkling chamico ; and instead of 
a jester we'll have the ghost in the white sheet sit at the 
upper end of the table." 

•It is curious how commonly this passage is overlooked ; 
yet it is very important, as the Puritan was printed in 1607. 
For ourselves the more we study the question the more 
convinced we are that those are in the right who .advocate 
an earlier date for Macbeth than 16 10. As this play attracts 
so much attention just now, we may just remind our readers 
that there is another allusion to Banquo's Ghost in Beau- 
mont and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle, pro- 
duced in 161 1, when Jasper, entering "with his face 
mealed," thus addresses Venturewell : — 

** When t'lou art at thy table with thy friends, 
Merry in heart, and filled with swelling wine, 


I'll come in midst of all thy pride and mirth, 
Invisible to all men but thyself." 

It should not be forgotten that Mr. Collier has found a 
Ballad of Macdobeth entered in the Stationers' Company 
Registers, Aug. 27, 1596. Singer does refer to the passage 
in Kemp's Nine Dales Wonder^ printed 1600, where this 
ballad is mentioned. The words, which he might have 
quoted, are these : — 

" I met a proper upright youth, onely for .a little stooping 
in the shoulders, all hart to the heele, a penny Poet, whose 
first making was the miserable Stolne story of Macdoel, or 
Macdobeth, or Macsomewhat, for I am sure a Mac it was, 
though I never had the maw to see it." 

Of whom or how was the story stolen, we wonder. See Mr. 
Fumess's encyclopaedic edition of Macbeth^ p. 387. In 
Act i. sc. 3, Singer rightly reads " weird sisters " in spite 
of Hunter's protest. " The old copy," he notes, " has * way- 
ward,' probably to indicate the pronunciation ; it is also 
used by Heywood." 

• The " Lifie " which occupies some hundred pages of the 
first volume of this, reissue is written by Mr. W. Watkiss 
Lloyd. The critical essays by the same author, which 
appeared in the original edition, are now reprinted in a 
separate volume, uniform with the plays. iSir. Lloyd is a 
well-known worker in yarious fields — in the Periklean no 
less than the Elizabethan. What he does is always well 
done — is always done freshly, thoughtfully, in a scholarly 
spirit. • His style, it must be observed, is often unfortunate, 
so that one does not always quite understand what he 
means to say; and there are lines of criticism which he 
scarcely recognizes; but, on the whole, his volume of 
Essays is to be cordially recommended — if only the print 
were not so cruelly small. On the whole, they are really 



remarkable for their learning, breadth, and general sound- 
ness. In discussing the dates of the plays, for instance, 
though we by no means always agree with his conclusions, 
yet we cannot but admire the comprehensive intelligence of 
his method. His culture delivers him from the vigorous 
one-sidedness that deforms so much Shakespearian criticism. 
He sees the necessity of entertaining several considerations 
instead of blindly abandoning himself to a single one. With 
such a volume within reach, and with sucK another as Pro- 
fessor Dowden's recent work, Shakespearian studjr may be 
fairly hoped to make some better progress. 

For its size, there is, perhaps, no Life of Shakespeare that 
gives more information. We think a more minute investi- 
gation would convince Mr. Lloyd that " Willy " in Spenser's 
Tears of the Muses can scarcely be Shakespeare; that he is 
not justified in giving 1594 as the date of the Action lines 
in Colin Clouts Come Home Again ; that the composition of 
the Roman plays does not belong to the latter years of the 
poet's life — he is speaking of the years 16 14- 15 — iox Julius 
Ccesar is referred to, as Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps has dis- 
covered, in 1 60 1, and Antony and Cleopatra is entered in 
the books of the Stationers' Company in 1608 ; (but it must 
be mentioned that Mr. Lloyd in his Essay on the play dis- 
putes the latter fact, we think ineffectually, though he allows 
it in his Julius Ccesar essay ;) and there are other such 
matters ; yet, on the whole, the Life is conspicuously well- 
informed and complete. 

We will end with one or two notes on \ht. Essays: — 
" * Ariel' is without capacity of sympathetic affection in any 
form ; can recognize the compassionable* as an object of in- 
tellect, but knows no touch of the appropriate sentiment; 
and for aught that can be inferred, would be equally in- 
capable of personal hatred." Is this estimate quite compa- 


tible with the spirit's wistful cry " Do you love me, master? 
no ? " {Tempest^ iv. i, 48)? Mr. Lloyd considers the name 
Sycorax to be a softened form of Psychorrhex (>/wxo/of)^{), 
heartbreaker ; but rather, we think, it is contracted from 
. rvoropa^, derived from trvq and jco^af.^ In his remarks on 
the Two Gentlemen of Verona Mr. Lloyd accounts for " the 
alacrity of" Valentine's " renunciation of all previous rights 
in the blushing damsel who has no word of recognition or 
gratitude to greet him with " by casting reflections on the 
character of poor Silvia ! The scene is strange, no doubt ; 
• but there are other ways of treating it ; we really do not 
think Silvia is meant to be sacrificed. In what sense 
would readers take these words in )^e' Measure for Measure 
essay ? — 

" Applying the canon of sequence approved in the exami- 
. nation of the parallelisms of the Two Gentlemen of Verona^ 
I would deduce the necessary posteriority of Measure for 
Measure to Much Ado about Nothings and to King Henry IV., 
on the ground that it contains the germs of characters and 
scenes which appear in those plays ^ in perfect and entire 

As it appears from the context, either Mr. Lloyd uses 
the word " posteriority " in a quite unusual way, or it is a 
mere slip for " priority." Anyhow, we think his date for 
Measure for. Measure can hardly be accepted. 

^ See page 1 14. 




(From tlie Amtiqmary for Nov., i88l.) 

GASCOIGNE'S Sied Glass may be called the first 
formal English satire. But, with all its merits as a 
first effort, it is but a crude performance. The first notable 
satires published, which may deserve to be ranked in the- 
series to which the masterpieces of Dryden and of Pope 
belong, are those of Hall, afterwards Bishop of Exeter, and 
then of Norwich. 

The satirical spirit may be, and has been, variously em- . 
bodied. In the Middle Ages it firequently used the form of 
a tale or a fable ; its most trenchant expression in the Eliza- 
bethan period was the dramatic ; as, for instance, in the 
plays of Ben Jonson, who is nothing 'if not satirical ; it has 
frequently takeii a lyrical shape. No wonder if, in the age of 
the Renascence, under the example and influence of Juvenal 
and Persius, it assumed a form of its own, and there began 
to be a literature, not only satirical in spirit, but satirical in 
form, according to the great Roman models. 

Satire is the expression of scorn and disgust and hate, 
rather. than of admiration and jjraise and love. Therefore, 
it is an evil thing for an age when its literature is mainly 
satirical. Only in ages debased and fallen, as in that of the 
Restoration, can it be so. Happily, in the Elizabethan, 
nobler sentiments could prevail, and prevailed ; the time 
was not out of joint ; at all events, if there was then, as at 
all titnes, some cause for discontent and indignation, there 


was yet more for satisfaction and pride ; ^nd the greatest 
"geniuses did not surrender themselves to merely satirical im- 
pulses ; they were minded to bless rather than to curse. In 
several of Shakespeare's plays a satirical element is percep- 
tible — is obvious ; but it never becomes supreme. When 
Jaques, in As You, Like It^ longs for the liberty of the 
satirist — longs for leave 

" To speak my mind, and I will through and through 
Cleanse the foul body of th' infected world, 
If they will patiently receive my medicine,** 

the Duke administers to tl^t witty pessimist a rebuke most 
worthy of the consideratioij of all persons who conceive they 
bave a right to scourge their neighbours. 

** Duke. Fie on thee ! I can tell what thou wouldst do. 


Jaques, What, for a counter, would I do, but good ? 

Duke, Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin ; 
For thou thyself hast been a libertine, 
As sensual as the brutish sting itself ; 
And all th* embossed sores, and headed evils, 
That thou with licence of free foot hast caught, 
Wouldst thou disgoi^e into the general world.** 

It is surely interesting to note that the Duke's words were 
first uttered just about the time when satirical literature, in 
the technical sense, was beginning. At about the same date 
as As YaU'Like It — not to mention that Ben Jon son's plays 
were just then coming out — appeared the satires of Hall and 
of Marston^ 

Hall's first three books of satire, " poetical, academical, 
moral,"-^" toothless satyrs," as he called them — {satire and 
satyr were identified by Elizabethan scholarship), were pub- 
lished in 1597 ; and in the prologue he claims to be the first 
practiser of the art : — 

** I first adventure, with fool-hardy might, 
To tread the steps of perilous despite. 

2cfo • . ESS A YS AND NOTES. 

I first adventure, follow me who list. 
And be the second English satirist." 

In the • following year ' appeared three more books ; those 
called " biting satires." The: general title 'of the whole 
series was VirgidemicR, from Plautus' Virgidemia (a canage), 
a comical analogue of Vindemia (a vintage). In the same 
year (1598), appeared Marston's Scourge of Villany^ and 
also his Metamorphosis of Figmaltons's Image and certaine 
Satyres, But when Hall, whom Marston so Closely followed, 
satirizing the satirist, boasted of leading the way, some at 
least of Donne's satires had been written, though not pub- 
lished, for at least four years. Thus, both Donne and Hall 
cpnceived independently the satirical idea, Donne before 
Hall ; but to Hall belongs the honour of prior publication. 
Hall writes with skill and with spirit. It can scarcely be 
said of him : Factt indignatio versum. He finds a pleasure, 
in imitating, and in some sort reproducing, his Latin models ; 
and this is rather his- inspiration than any moral fervour. And 
the chief value of his work is its vigorous picture of Elizabe- 
than ways and manners. Whatever the old comedy did for 
Athens in the way of illustrating the old Athenian life, that 
satire did for Rome, and with inferior, but yet no mean 
force, Hall did for Elizabethan London. It is no contemp- 
tible service to have helped to keep alive for U5 an age so 
fascinating, so glorious, so momentous. Whoever . would 
picture to himself the very town in the midst of which 
Shakespeare moved, its lights and shadows, its whims and 
phantasies and follies — " a mad world, my masters " — see 
" the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure," 
and learn what were its daily thoughts, interests, cares, 
credulities, passions — will find truly valuable aid in HalFs 




MILTON'S lines on " that admirable dramatic poet, 
Mr. William Shakespeare," and a. few other of his 
allusions to him, are well known ; but it may be doubted 
whether his appreciation of his great, predecessor has yet 
been adequately recognized. We do not now propose to go 
into the general question, but only to take a particular in- 
stance, and to illustrate the keen receptive delight with which 
Milton when* young studied the Midsummer Nighfs Dream, 
Other plays that might be especially named are Romeo and 
Juliet^ As You Like It^ King Lear^ and Macbeth ; but we will 
confine ourselves now to the Midsummer Nighfs Dream^ and 
among Milton's works to the famous pendants L Allegro s^nd 
II Penseroso ;' zxid. as we read the younger poet, listen for 
echoes of the elder. 

I. The chief note of JO Allegro and its twin is, in fact, 
struck in the Midsummer Nighfs JDream, though amongst 
all the suggested " sources " of Milton's two poems, Shake- 
speare's play has, so far as we remember, scarcely been 

" Go, Philostrate," 

says Theseus : 

** Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments ; 
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth ; 
Turn melancholy forth to funerals ; 
The pale companion is not for our pomp.** 




" Come, thou goddess fair and* free, 
In heav'n yclept Euphrosyne, 
And by men hea^t-easing mirth.** 

** Hence, loathed Melancholy,'* &c. 

2. "Jegt and youthful >//z/y.** 

" Nightly revels and new iollity,^* 

3. "JVb^ and Becks.** 

'* Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.** 


4. " Laughter holding both his sides.** 

"And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh." 

5. " Come and trip it as you go.** 

"And this ditty after me 
Sing and dance it trippingly.** 

" Then, my queen, in silence sad 
Trip we after the night*s shade.** 


6. " Through the sweetbriar and the vine. 
Or the twisted eglantine." 

" Quite ovef-canopied with luscious woodbine, 
With sweet musk -roses and with eglantine.** 

7. " How the hounds and horn 
Cheerly rouse the slumbering mom,** 

in "the vaward of the 'day," when Theseus is out a hunting. 

8. " Right against the eastern gate. 
When the great sun begins his state, 
Robedin flames^ and amber light.** 

** Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red^ 
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams, 
, Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams. ** . 

9. Observe the fairy lore common to both poets. 

10. " The /«^3^r fiend.** 

" Thou«/^3 of spirits.*' 

11. " There let Hymen oft appear 
In Saffron robe, with taper clear, 


And Pomp, and Feast, and Revelry, 
With Mask and antique Pageantry." 

**But I will wed thee in another key, , 

With Pomp, with triumph, and with revelling." 

12. ** Such sights 2i& youthful poets dream 
On summer eves by haunted stream." 

Is it impossible that this is a direct allusion to the Mid- 
summer Nighfs Dream ? Notice the immediately preceding 
words ; and also the mention of Shakespeare in those that 
immediately follow. 

13. " Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child, 
Warble his native wood-notes wild." 

Surely this way of speaking of the great dramatist is suggested 
by a vivid, memory of a certain " wood near Athens," as also 
of Arden ? 

14. "That Orpheus self," &c. 

In the Midsummer Nighfs Dream we hear of 

"The Thracian singer." 

15. To pass on to ///V«x^n?5^; — 

" Ilow little you bested. 

Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys f " 

" I never may believe 
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys, " 

16.^ "The ficklt pensioners of Morpheus* train," 

" The cowslips tall her pensioners be." 

17. " The rugged brow of Night." 
" Black-browed Night." 

18. "While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke." 
" The triple Hecate's team." 


"Night's swift dragoiis." 


19. ** When glowing lembers through the room 
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom." 

** Now the wasted brands do glow," 


** Through the house give glimmering light 
By the dead and drowsy fire." 

20. ** Not trickt and frounc't as she was wont 
With the Attic boy to hunt." 

** I with the morning's Jove have oft made sport 


The meaning of Shakespeare's words has been disputed. 
How Milton took them is clear. 

21. " Th* unseen Genius of the Wood." 

Is he not thinking of Oberon ? 

" the * invisible ' Oberbh ? " 

Notice also these words as common to the poems before 
us : frolic (as ^ adj.), grain (of a dye), buskin'd, virtuous 
(power-possessing potent), triumphs (shows), antique 
(= antic), &c. 

From other plays other illustrations might easily be drawn ; 
e,g. cf. " Day's garish eye " and " the garish sun " in Eomeo 
and Juliet, &c. But, taking together all the comcidences we 
have mentioned, not laying stress on any single one, though 
indeed there are several that might well have stress laid upon 
them, surely we have already sufficient evidence to show with 
what worship and joy the young Milton sat at the feet of 
Shakespeare — sufficient evidence not that he consciously 
imitated or borrowed from him, or was in any sense untrue 
to his own originality, but that Shakespeare's works had be- 
come, so to speak, part of his mental garniture. 




(From the Academy for Nov. 20, 1875.) 

THERE is, as is well known, great variety of opinion as 
to whether the play of Richard IL^ acted by the re- 
quest of Sir Gilly Merrick the day before Essex's rising, was 
Shakespeare's or some other. The probabilities are, on the 
whole, perhaps in favour of its being Shakespeare's. As 
Shakespeare' was intimately acquainted with Southampton, 
who was one of Essex's leading partisans, it is probable that 
those partisans would apply for any dramatic help they 
might want, or fancy they wanted, to- the company to which 
Shakespe^e belonged. Again, the omission of the Deposi- 
tion Scene from the quartos of 1597 and 1598, though there 
can be little doubt it was then written, cannot but be re- 
garded as significant of the use to which that scene might be 
turned. The publisher of those quartos evidently saw in it 
soniething that might be construed into a sense unfavour- 
able to the Queen, and so welcome to her enemies. Nor, I 
think, can the fact of the play's being called an old play, 
and one that it would not pay to act, be said to counter- 
weigh these pf obabilities. Others, however, and critics of 
judgment, may decide for themselves differently. But what 
I wish now to do is to recall attention to a piece of evidence 
brought forward years ago, but which seems to have been 
oddly overlooked or ignored by some recent editors — a piece 
of evidence which greatly increases the probability that the 
play was really Shakespeare's. 


• •• 
In a report of Attorney-General Bacon's speech in the 

State Trials, there is given the name of the actor with whom 

Sir Gilly Merrick negotiated. It is Phillips : and unless good 

reason is shown to the contrary, we can scarcely doubt that 

this is the Augustine Phillips who was a member of the 

famous Globe company, />., one of Shakespeare's " fellows." 

In the licence of 1603 the names run: Lawrence Fletcher, 

William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillips, 

&c. A notice of him may be found in the Historical Accouni 

of the English Stage, and elsewhere. 
* • 

The report is that described .as "a fuller account of the 

Trial of Sir Christopher Blunt, Sir Charles Davers, Sir John 
Davis, Sir Gilly Merrick and Henry Cuffe, from a MS. pur- 
chased at a sale of the MSS. of Peter Le Neve, Esq., Norroy 
King-at-Arms ;" and the passage that concerns us occurs on 
p. 1445 of the 1809 edition oi State Trials: — 

" And the story of Henry the Fourth being set forth in a 
play, and in that play there being set forth the killing of the 
King upon a stage, the Friday before. Sir Gilly and some 
others of the Earl's train having a humour to see a play, they 
must. needs have the play of * Henry the Fourth.' The players 
' told them that was stale, they should get nothing by playing 
of that ; but no play else would serve, and Sir Gilly gives 
forty shillings to Phillips the player to play this, besides 
.whatever he could get." 

The play's being called Henry IV. surely cannot cause 
any difficulty, seeing what is said of its contents. But if any 
one should think otherwise, there is abundant other evidence 
to show that the play was also .called, or rather commonly 
called Richard //. See, for instance, Bacon's " Declaration 
of the Practices and Treasons attempted, and committed 
by Robert, Earl of Essex, and his complices, against her 
Majesty and her kingdoms," where we are told that, **it was 



given in evidence .... that the afternoon before the re- 
bellion, Merick, with a great company of others that after- 
wards were all in the action, had procured to be played 
before them the flay of. deposing Richard the Second, Neither 
was it casual, but a play bespoken by Merick." 

But if there could be any doubt on this point, or as to 
who that Phillips was, it must be all dissipated by the docu- 
ment of which a facsimile is given by Mr. J. O. Halliwell- • 
Phillipps, in that vast storehouse of learning his Folio Shake- 
speare, now to be found also in the Calendar of State Fapers^ 
Domestic Series, X591-1601, p. 578 — a documei^ surely not ' 
so much noticed and considered as it deserves. It is • 
headed : ' " Examination of Augustine Phillips, servant to 
the Lord Chamberlain and one of his Players, before tiord 
Chief Justice Popham and Edward Fenner," and runs 
thus : — 

" On Thursday or Friday sevennight Sir Charles Percy, 
Sir Josceline Percy, Lord Monteagle, and several others 
spoke to some of our players to play the deposing and kill- 
ing of Richard ii., and promised to give them 401. more 
thaif their ordinary to do so. Examinate and his fellows 
had determined to play some other play, holding that of 
King Richard as being so old, and so long out of use that 
they should have a small company of it ; but at this request 
they were content to play it." We may just ask whether 
the above names do not suggest that some of Essex's ac- 
complices may have nursed designs very different from his 
own, or -at all events from those he. professed ? But this by 
the way. What is noticeable for us is that " the deposing 
and killing of Richard II." is exactly the subject of Shake- 
speare's play. 

Considering no^ the general probabilities, and the facts 
that the company employed by the Essexians was that to 



which Shakespeare belonged, and that the play asked for 
answers in description to Shakespeare's Richard IL^ must 
we not incline to believe that the play was indeed Shake- 
speare's ? Is it likely that there were two plays answering to 
the same description "in the field " of the Globe — two plays 
dealing with the closing years of Richard II. ? 





(From the AtheruBum for July 17, 1875.) 

AN interesting Shakespearian chapter has yet to be written, 
treating of the influence of the great master over his 
contemporaries. A full description of the way In which his 
image is impressed upon the contemporary drama would 
more truly show what his power was during his life, than 
a long list of direct recognitions and formal eulogies. We 
wish Dr. Ingleby's very valuable volume might be supple- 
mented by a record of this most significant " prayse." A 
remarkable instance of it is to be found in Wily Beguiled. 
Whalley noticed how it imSated the Merchant of Venice in 
one passage ; but it is, in fact, full of Shakespearian imi- 

As to the date of the play, it seems to have been first pub- 
lished in 1606 ; but it was certainly written some years 
before. According to Malone, it "was written before 1596, 
being mentioned by Nash in one of his pamphlets published 
in that year" (/.^., Have with you to Saffron Walden). 
Malone's logic is here a little strange. All that he ought to 
infer is that the play was not written later than 1596. Neither 
is his statement as to Nash's mention of it accurate, as will be 
shown in another paper. It was certainly not written before, 
because it contains a reference to the famous expedition to 
Cadiz. " Zounds," says Churms, an over-reaching lawyer 




\yho is eventually himself over-reached, " I am as prcJper a 
man as Peter Plod-all ; and though his father be as good a 
man as mine, yet far-fetched and dear-bought is good for 
ladies ; and I am sure I have been as far as Cales to fetch 
that I have. I have been at Cambridge, a scholar ; at Cales 
a soldier ; and now in the country 2^ lawyer, and the next 
degree shall be a coney-catcher ; for 111 go near to coaen old 
father Sharepenny of his daughter ; I'll cast about, 111 warrant 
him." And, unless we believe that the Venesyon Comedy 
mentioned in Henslowe's Diary ^ August 25 th, 1594, is the 
Merchant y a belief not easily to be adopted, there i^ now no ' 
external evidence for jgiving the Merchant an earlier date 
than 1596. Nor do I think that the internal evidence of 
style and tone points to any earlier date, but this is to some 
extent a matter of opinion. 

The passage which Whalley quotes as manifestly imitat- 
ing the Merchant^ is from the scene where Sophos and 
Lelia are away in the woods together in the starlight, and 
they converse in this wise : — 

** See how the twinkling stars do hide their borrowed shine, 

As. half ashamed their lustre is so stained 

By Lelia's beauteous eyes, that shine more bright 

Than twinkling stars do in a winter's night. 

In such a night did Paris win his love. 

Lelia. In such a night yEneas proved unkind. 

Sophos. In such a night did Troilus court his dear. 

Lelia. In such a night fair Phillis was betrayed. 

Sophos. I'll prove as true as ever Troilus was. 

Lelia. And I as constant as Penelope." 

But, as we have said, the play is full of Shakespearian imi- 
tations. Gripe, the usurer, is done out of his daughter and 
his money, even as Shylock is, and cries o'ut : — 

" I am undone. I am robbed ! My daughter ! My money ! 
Which way are they gone ? " 


Again, says Sophos, in an interview with his mistress : — 

** To "what fair Lelia wills doth Sophos yield content, 
Yet that's the troublous gulf, my silly ship must pass. 
But, were that venture harder to atchieve 
Than that of Jason for the golden fleece, 
I would effect it for sweet Lelia's sake, 
Or le4ve myself as witness of my thoughts. " 

Compare Merchant of Venice^ \, i, 172, and iii. 2, 244. 
Elsewhere^ — 

Enter Peg sola, 

** I'faith, i*faith, I cannot tell what to do ; 

I love and I love, and I cannot tell who ; 

Out upon this love ! for wot you what ? 

I hae suitors come huddle, twos upon twos. 

And threes upon threes ; and what think you 

Troubles me ? I must chat and kiss with all comers, 

Or else no bargain." 

Compare MercJiant of Venice^ i. i, 167-9; i* ^j 37 i ^^- 7> 

In the following passage who can doubt that the writer 

has in some sort felt the spell of Romeo and Juliet. 

• Enter ^ Lelia and Nurse gathering JUrwers, 

^* Lelia, See how the earth this fragrant spring is clad, 
And mantled round in sweet nymph Flora's robes. 
Here grows the alluring rose, sweet marigolds. 
And the lovely hyacinth. Come, nurse, gather ; 
A crown of roses shall adorn my head, 
1*11 prank myself with flowers of the prime ; 
And thus I'll spend away my primrose time. 

Nurse, Rufty, tufty, are you so frolic ? O that you knew as much as 
I do; t'would cool you. 

Lelia, Why, what knowest thou, nurse ? Prythee tell me. 

Nurse, Heavy news, i'faith, mistress ; you must be matched, and 
married to a husband. Ha, ha, ha, ha, a husband, i'faith. 

Lefia, A.husband, nurse? Why, that's good news, if he be a good 



Nurse. A good one, quotha? Ha, ha, ha, ha ! Why, woman, I 
heard your father say that he would marry you to Peter Plod-all, that 
puckfist, that snudge-snout, that coal-carrierly clown. Lord ! 'twould 
be as good as meat and drink to me to see how the fool would woo yoo. 

Lelia, No, no, my father did but jest ; think'st thou 
That I caa stoop so low to take a brown-bread crust. 
And wed a clown, that's brought up at the cart ? 

Nurse, Cart, quotha ? Ay, he'll cart you, for he cannot tell how to 
court you. 

Lelia.' Ah, nurse ! Sweet Sophos is the man, 
Whose love is locked in Lelia's tender breast ; 
This heart hath vowed, if heavens do not deny. 
My love with his entombed in earth doth lie. 

Nurse. Peace, mistress, stand aside ; here comes somebody." 

I might add more ;' but enough is given to show how 
deeply the author of Wily Beguiled was ShakespearianizecL 

(From the Athenaum for Sept. 4, 1875.) 

WHAT there was of interest in my communication of 
July 17th did not at all depend upon the date of 
Wily Beguiled. The object of it was to show how completely 
the author of it, whoever he was, and whenever he wrote, was 
' permeated with Shakespeare, of which more instances might 
easily have been given. But, in passing, reference was made 
to the date of the play, and on this point there have reached 
me one or two letters from well-known Shakespearian 

Does Nash allude to Wily Beguiled^ in Have with you to 
Saffron Walden ? I was careful to say that the statement 
he did so was made by Malone. Here is the passage from 
Nash's pamphlet ; " His voiage under Don Anionic^ was 
nothing so great credit" to him, as a. French Varlet of the 


chamber is : nor did he follow Anthonio neither but was a 
Captaines Boye that scomde writing and reading, and helps 
him to set down his accounts, and score up dead payes. 
But this was our Gdbriel Hagiels tricke of Wily Beguily 
herein, that whereas he could get no man of worth to cry 
Placet to his workes, or meeteV it in his commendation, 
those worthless Whippets and Jack Strawes hee could get 
he would seeme to enable and compare with the highest. 
Hereby hee thought to coney catch the simple world, and 
make them beleeue that these and these great men euerie 
waye sutable to Syr Thomas Baskerutile, Master Bodiey, 
Doctor Androwes, Doctor JDoue, Ciarencius, and Master 
Spencer^ had separately contended to outstrip Pindarus in 
his Olympids^ and sty aloft to the highest pitch, to stellifie 
him aboue the cloudes and make him shine next to Mercury'' 

Now, so far as the sense goes, there might be here a 
reference to the play. The title of the play, no doubt a 
proverbial phrase — see amongst Viacy's Joculatory Proverbs. 
He hath flayed wily beguiled with himself— signifits The 
Cheat Cheated, The Biter bit. The Tables Turned, the 
lawyer Churms being the wily one who is himself beguiled. 
Nash might, it is true, use the proverb without any reference < 
to the play. He might mean to say that Gabriel Harvey, 
while intending to impose on others, had, in fact, -made his 
position worse than it was — the exposure -of his trick had led 
to his own confusion. But also he might directly refer to 
the play, and mean that Harvey has practised the trick that 
is practised, in it ; for in it one Robin Gopdfellow in the 
interest of Churms, his friend and patron, sets up for " a 
devil," and fails miseiiably in that line. 

But the allusion would not be very happy ; and moreover, 
we have not only the general sense to consider, but the 
exact phraseology. And it is not easy to identify the phrase 



wily beguily with svily beguiled. Another form of the pro- 
verb is found,, viz., wilie beguile himself ; see a passage 
lighted on by Mr. Fumivall in Dr. John Harvey's Z>»- 
coursiue Problem Concerning Prophesies^ 1588: — 

" God, they say, sendeth commonly a curst cow short 
horns : and doth not the diuel, I say, in the winde-vpall, 
•and in fine, oftner play wilie b^uile himself e^ and crucifie 
his own wretched lims, then atchieue his mischieuous and 
malicious purposes howsoever craftilie conueid, or feately 
packed, either in one fraudulent sort or other ? " But it is 
not easy to believe that this form any more than the other 


could be corrupted into wily beguily. More probably Nash's, 
phrase is one of those reduplications that are so common in 
English (see Mr. Wheatley's paper in the Transactions of the 
Philological Society)^ and of which Nash was particularly 
fond^ see, as Mr. Fumivall notes, his "huddle duddle," 
" scrimpum scrampum, prinkum prankum," and in the pas- 
sage quoted above, Gabriel Hagiel. 

Nash, then, does not refer to the play, and so Malone's 
argument as to the date of it must be abandoned. What is 
the real date there is no space now to discuss. I will only 
say that Dr. Brinsley Nicholson has kindly placed at my 
free disposal certain notes of his on the subject, in which he 
concludes, on the whole, that the play was written " in or 
after 1601." 






(From the Atkenaum for Dec. 15, 1877.) 

THE fourth quarto edition of the Merchant of Venice 
appeared, as is well known, in 1652. Such an appa- 
rition is not indeed unique in the Commonwealth period : 
the fourth quarto of King Lear came out in 1655, and also 
in 1655 the third of Othello; but there are political circum- 
stances attending the year 1652 which, if they do not explain 
the re-issue of the Merchant just then, yet certainly deserve 
notice in connection with it. It may have been a mere 
coincidence — it is undoubtedly a fact worth remarking — that 
just at the time when the 'Merchant was re-issued, the- Jews 
were beginning to ask for re-admission into England, and 
the consideration of their request to be seriously entertained. 
It was not till October, 1655, that Martasseh Ben Israel came 
over in person; not till the following December that the cele- 
brated discussion at Whitehall took place ; but for some years 
previously that earnest and able patriot had been urging 
the claims of his people upon English consideration. He 
had petitioned "Barebone's Parliament," and still earlier had 
petitioned the Long Parliament — from both these assemblies 
receiving a passport to come over and represent • his case, a 
permission of which he was prevented from availing himself. 
And the cause he advocated was not without friends moved 
by motives far different fTom his. During the Dutch war, 


which began in May, 165 2,. both Blake and Monk recom- 
mended the re-admission of the Jews " as a means of damag- 
ing the commerce • of Holland, and Cromwell appeared 
favourable to it" {Annals of England^, Thus, just about 
the time of the republication of the famous portrait of Shy- 
lock, the question of the return of his race was " in the air," 
was a kindling question, if not yet a burning one. The 
great Cromwell himself was willing, not only for the reason 
suggested above, to put an end to the foolish ^d unjust 
enactment that exiled from thq country a people capable of 
proving one of its most valuable elements ; and some few 
other of the more enlightened spirits of the day may have 
agfeed with him ; but for the most part the feeling was against 
the Jews. Prejudices are not easily uprooted, and English 
prejudices are of special tenacity, and this particular preju- • 
dice was of unusual strength. So the idea of a Jewish immi- 
gration was bitterly resented. The clergy, the lawyers, the 
•populace, were all at one on the subject. William Prynne 
" headed the cry of Christianity in danger by publishing a 
manifesto against the Jews, in which * their ill deportment, 
misdemeanours, condition, sufferings, oppressions, slaughters, 
plunders by popular insurrections, royal exactions, and final 
banishment,' were brought foijvard in connection with laws 
and Scriptures, * to plead and conclude against their re-ad- 
mission into England.' The old clamour against the Jewerie 
was revived, especially in the City, where the merchants were 
jealous of the wealth of the Hebrews ; and the Protector, 
seeing it was in vain to expect any agreement upon this 
question, sought for no legal sanction to their settling here, 
but raised no objection to a Portuguese synagogue being 
opened in 1656." The dispensation Cromwell gave was 
stoutly protested against when he himself was no more. At 
Christmas, 1659, one Thomas Violet, a goldsmith, appealed 


to one of the judges respecting it ; and in the following year 
the same intelligent and broad-spirited person, along with 
others of a like mind, petitioned against it. Amongst the 
State' Papers of the Restoration is "a remonstrance ad- 
dressed to th^ King- concerning the English JewS, showing 
the mischiefs accomplished by them since their coming in 
at the time of William the Conqueror; the privileges which 
they purchased by money, their prosperity notwithstanding 
their oppressions and taxations, their ill dealings and banish- 
ment by Edward the First, at the desire of the whole kingdom ; 
yet they have since returned, renewed their usurious and frau- 
dulent practices, and flourish so much, that they endeavoured 
to buy St. Paul's for a synagogue in th6 late usurper's time ; 
suggesting the issue of a commission to inquire into their 
state, aAd the imposition of heavy taxes, seizure of their 
personal property, and banishment for residence without 
licence," &c (see Mrs. Everett Green's State Papers^ 
Domestic Series, 1660). 

It must be allowed that the re-exhibition of Shylock in 1 65 2 
could scarcely have tended to soften this general disposition. 
Whether William Leake, in "his shop at the sigh of the 
Crown between the two Temple Gates," had any sinister in- 
tentions when he had that quarto reprinted, there would 
seem no means of knowing. Other volumes published by 
him, advertised in the Merchant quarto, are of various kinds, 
both religious and general. Amongst them are both Chrisfs 
Passion^ a Tragedie by George Sands, and A Maid^s Tra- 
gedie. There may or may not have been animus in the man, 
but he certainly did the Jews no good turn when at such a 
time he re-issued the Merchant of Venice, 

For by " the general " little heed is paid to the profound 
skill and the Catholic humanity with which the Jew is in- 
terpreted in that play. " The general " sees only a monster, 


and hisses and bates. A more careful eye observes that this 
monster is accounted for — that the great poet is considering 
the problem how such ossifications come to be. He is 
" anatomizing " Shylock, seeing ** what breeds about " his 
"heart." "Is there any cause in nature that makes these 
hard hearts ? " The Christian who looks frankly and faith- 
fully at this work will not find matter for exultation or for 
ridicule, but only for shame and sadness. Shylock had been 
made the hard, savage, relentless creature we see hira, by 
long and cruel oppression. He inherited a nature embittered 
by centuries of insult and outrage, and his own wretched 
experience had only aggravated its bitterness. " Suflferance" 
had been and was the badge of all his tribe ; it was his badge. 
As fetter^ corrode the flesh, so persecution corrodes the heart. 
Shakespeare, truly detesting this dreadful being, yet bethinks 
him, we say, how he became so. ^ He was once a man — at 
least, his breed was once human ; and Shakespeare, no less 
than the supreme creative genius of our own age, recognized 
in the Jew splendid capacities and powers, however, so far 
as he knew the race, misapplied and debased — was no less 
fascinated by a character of such singular force and ineradi- 
cable nationality. But "the general" would see-onfy an 
atrocious monster, infamous for its greed, execrable for its 
spite. And such a . figure, seen at such a time, could 
scarcely have promoted the cause of the outcasts of Israel. 




(From the Antiquary for March, i88i.) 

OFTEN as Jaques' caustic description of the " seven 
ages " of the drama of life has been quoted, there is a 
point in one passage in it that has not yet,*I believe, been 
taken. The Justice, as everybody rememembers, is por- 
trayed as 

" In fair round belly with good capon lined, 
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, 
Full of wise saws and modem instances." 

The uninstructed reader probably always misunderstands 
the word "modem;" and the meaning of "instances" is 
not so easy to be sure of. But it is not this line to which I 
now call attention; it is the first of the three quoted. 
There is an allusion that has been missed in the mention of 
the " capon," an allusion which adds to the bitterness of a 
sufficiently bitter life-sketch. It was the custom to present 
magistrates with presents, especially, . it would seem, with 
capons, by way of securing their goodwill and favour. This 
fact heightens the satire of Jaques' portrait of an Elizabethan 
J. P. It gives force and meaning to what seems vague and 
general. Let us now prove and illustrate it. 

Wither, describing the Christmas season, with its burning 
''blocks," its **pies," its bagpipes and tabors, and other 
revebies, goes on to sing how 


Now pool men to the justices 
With capons make their errants ; 


And if they hap to fail of these, 

They plague them with their warrants." 

That is, the capon was a tribute fully expected and as good 
as exacted ; it was " understood " if should be duly paid in. 

" But noM^ they feed them with good cheer. 
And what they, want they take in beer, 
For Christmas comes but once a year. 
And then they shall be merry." 

That is, the justices acknowledge the tribute by treating 
" the poor men " to a good dinner and as much beer as they 
like. But the Ihore important acknowledgment was yet to 

Singer, in one of his excellent Shakespearian riotes, cites 
a member of the House of Commons as saying, in 1601 : 
" A Justice of Peace is a living creature that for half a dozen 
chickens will dispense with a dozen of penal statutes." 

Other illustrations will be found in my friend the Rev. T, 
Lewis O. Davies' Supplementary English Glossary, published 
by Messrs. Bell and Sons, a work of great value to English 
students. " Samuel Ward," writes Mr. Davies in a letter I 
have his kind permission to use, " a Puritan Divine, in a 
sermon undated, but probably preached very early in the 
seventeenth century, speaks of judges that judge for reward, 
and say with shame * Bring you,' such as the country calls 
^ capon justices.' He does not explain the term further, but 
I suppose corrupt magistrates were so called because they 
expected presents of capons and other farm produce from 
the rustics who came before them." 

A further illustration of this morally dubious custom is to 
be found in Massinger's A New Way to Fay Old Debts: 
but in. this case the offering exceeds the dimensions of a 
capon. Says Mr. Justice Greedy to Tapwell, the ale-house 
keeper : — 

''WITJp GOOD CAPON lined:' ' 221 

* * I remember thy wife brought me 

Last New Year's" tide a couple of fat turkies." 

and Tapwell answers t — 

^ ** And shall do every Christmas, let your worship 
But stapd my friend now. 

Greedy. How? With Master Wellborn ? 
I can do anything with him on such terms." 

Then, turning to Wellborn, quoth the disinterested magis- 
trate, aglow with pity for virtue in distress : — 

" See you this honest'couple ? They are good souls 

As ever drew fossit ; have they not 

A pair of honest faces ? . 

Wellborn, I o'erheard you, 

And the bribe he promised. . You are 

cozen'd in them ; 

For of all the scum that grew rich by my riots, 

This for a most unthankful knave, and this 

For a base bawd and whore, have worst deceiv'd me. 

And therefore speak not for them ; by your place 

You are rather to do me justice ; lend me your ear ; 

Forget his turkies, and call in his license ; 

And at the next fair I'll give you a yoke of oxen 

Worth all his poultry. 

Greedy {rapidly converted and forgetting his sympathy with 
distressed virtue), I am changed on a sudden 

In my opinion. Come near ; nearer, rascal. 

And, now I view him better, did you e'er see 

One look so like an arch-knave ? His very countenance 

Should an understanding judge but look on him 

Would hang him though he were innocent. 

Tapwell and *Froihy his wife {astoUnded on this sudden reverse 
inflicted by the consut^ier of their turkies). Worshipful sir ! 
Greedy {full of the righteous indignoHon inspired by the supe- 
riority of two oxen to 'two turkies). No, though the great 
Turk came instead of turkies 

To 'beg my favour, I am inexorable." 

In Overbury*s Book of Characters^ the Timist (/>., Time- 
server), has his New-Year's gifts ready at Hallowmass. 


How the ministers of justice — too often of injustice- 
were amenable to influence, whether personal or in the 
shape of fowls and such matters, is shown by Shakespeare 
himself in his famous picture of " Robert Shallow, Esquire, 
in the county of Gloster, justice of peace and coram .... 
and custalorum, and ratolorum too ; and a gentleman bom, 
who writes himself armigero — in any bill, warrant, quittance 
or obligation, armigero P — See 2 Henry /F., v. i. 

" Dcpvy, I beseech you, sir, to countenance William Visor of Wincot 
against Clement Perkes of the hill. 

Shallow. There are many complaints, Davy, against that Visor : that 
Visor is an arrant knave, on my knowledge. 

Davy. I grant your worship, that he is a knave, sir ; but yet, God 
forbid, sir, but a knave should have some countenance at his friend's 
request. An honest man, sir, is able to speak for himself, when a 
knave is not. I have served your worship truly, sir, this eight years; 
and if I cannot once or twice in a quarter bear out a knave against an 
honest man, I have but a very little credit with your worship. The 
knave is mine honest friend, sir ; therefore, I beseech .your worship, let 
him be countenanced. • 

Shallow, Go to ; I say, he shall have no wrong. Look about, 

" This," notes Singer, " is no exaggerated picture of the 
course of justice in Shakespeare's time. Sir Nicholas Bacon 
[alas ! that the name of his great son should be in any way 
mixed up with any of these or kindred abuses !] in a speech 
to Parliament, 1559, says : * Is it not a monstrous disguising 
to have a justice a maintainer, acquitting some for gain, en- 
diting others for malice, bearing with him as his servant, 
overthrowing the other as his enemy.* '* 

Latimer denounqes this perilous practice of present-taking 
with characteristic courage and frankness. Referring to the 
words of Isaiah i(L 23) — "Thy princes are rebellious and 
companions of thieves ; every one loveth gifts, and foUoweth 
after rewards ; they judge* not the fatherless, neither doth 

''WITH GOOD CAPON lined:' 


the cause .of the widow come unto them " — he says : ** Om- 
nes diligunt munera. They all lov^ bribes. [Observe how 
easily /««;/«x, a gift, passes on to mean a bribe.] Bribery is 
a princely kind of thieving. They will be waged by the 
rich either to give sentence against the poor or to put off the 
poor man's causes.. This is the noble theft of princes and 
of magistrates. They are bribe-takers. Now-ardays they 
call them gentle rewards ; let them leave their colouring and 
call them by their Christian name — bribes ; Omnes ^ligunt 
munera, AH the princes, ^11 the judges, all the priests, all 

the rulers, are bribers Woe worth these gifts ; they 

subvert .justice everywhere. Sequuntur retributiones. They 
follow bribes. Somewhat was given to them before, and they 
must needs give somewhat again ; for Giflf-gaffe was a good 
fellow; this Giflf-gaffe led them clean from justice." 

224 • £SSA ys AND NOTES. 



(From the Academy for June 30, 1877.) 

" T remarkable," says Crajk in his English of Shake- 
X speare, p. 1 1 6, "that the expression bear me hard^ meeting 
us so often in this one play {Julius Ccesar), should be found 
nowhere else in Shakespeare. Nor have the commentators 
been able to refer to an instance of its occurrence in any 
other writer." The instances m Julius Ccesar are these :— 

• • 

" Caesar doth bear me hard^ but he loves Brutus." 

(I. ii. 317.) 
" Caius Ligarius doth bear Ccesar hard, 

(II. i. 215.) 


** I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard, * 

Now whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke, 

Fulfil your pleasure." 

(III. i. 157.) 

So all the Folios, except in the second instance, where the 
Second, Third, and Fourth read hatred. I have to thank a 
friend for informing me — and I suppose from Craik's remark 
the fact will be new to most people — that the phrase occurs 
also in Ben Jonson's Catiline, iv; 5, where Sempronia says 
in answer to Lentulus' praise of Cethegus : — 

** Ay, though he bear me hard, 
I yet must do him right ; he is a spirit 
Of the right Martian breed." 

P.S. Another instance occurs in The Life and Death of * 
Thomas, Lord Cromwell, Says Cromwell (Act iv. Sc. 2) : — 

" CjEsar doth bear me hard:' 225 

*' Good morrow to my lord of Winchester ; I know • 

You bear me ^n/ about the Abbey lands." 

That the phrase was felt to be difficult seems to be shown 
by the substitution of ^^ hatred^^ as mentioned above. And 
the phrase /i^ bear hatred does occur in Romeo and Juliet^ II. 
iii« 53 > ^0 ^^f^ ^^i^ several times in Shakespeare, as Mid- 
summer Nighfs Dream^ III. ii. 190 ; Merchant of Venice^ IV. 
i. 61 ; Titus Andronicus^ V. i. 3 ; so to bear a grudge^ Mer- 
chant of Venice^ I. iii. 48, and to bear malice^ Henry VII I. ^ 
II. L 62 ; compare to bear good will. Two Gentlemen of Ve* 
rona^ IV. iiL 15. But yet the interpretation is obvious 
enough. To bear one hard= hardly to bear, with difficulty 
to put up with, to find it no easy thing to tolerate, &c. And 
in this sense it is used once elsewhere by Shakespeare, with 
a thing, not a person, for the object. Thus in i Henry IV,^ 
L iii. 70, the Archbishop of York is spoken of as — 

" Who be^rs hard 
His brother* s death at Bristol, the Lord Scroop." 

Compare RicJiard III^ II. i. 56 — 

** If I unwittingly or in my rage 

Have aught committed that is hardly borne 

By any in this presence, I desire 

To reconcile me to his friendly peace." 

where the form hardly is specially to be noticed. Thus to 
bear hard is exactly the Greek yjxKvKibq f^ip^iv^ a phrase seem- 
ingly used rather of things than persons ; as in Plat. Rep, 
330. A : — kolX Tciic ^rf firj irkovtxioiQ yaKeirwQ Zt to yt)paq 
i^poveriv ei e^ti 6 avrbc Xdyog k.t,\, ; compare the Latin 
graviterferre, which also, in classical Latin at least, does not 
seem to be used of -persons. We still say, colloquially at 
least, ** I can't bear him," in the sense of " I detest him ; " *• I 
can't ' stand ' him." What the phrase we are considering 



meant was " I can scarcely bear him ; " " It is all I can do 
to tolerate him ;" or, to use an old verb, ** I can scarcely abide 
him." Thus "Caesar doth bear me hard," = Caesar barely 
endures me, bitterly dislikes me. 

Ifard then = hardly, as the quotation from Richard IIL 
shows. So " to run hard," &c. With this form of the 
adverb compare such phrases as " speak vat, fair in death," 

Dr. Johnson explains hear in the phrase before us as = 
" press," and alongside of it quotes from Addison : ** These 
men bear hard upon the suspected party." But bear upon 
and bear cannot be bracketed in this way. Bear upon is 
quite a different phrase like x'"^^^^ <pepBiv with iirl and a 
dative, and is still of extremely common occurrence. Nearer 
the Shakespearian phrase in sense is "bear with," where 
perhaps bear is used absolutely, be bearing or tolerant, /.^, 
patient in dealing with. 

The phrase in Julius Ccesar^ I. il 35 : — 

" You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand 
Over your friend who loves you." 

may perhaps be illustrated by Lear, III. i. 27 : — 

" The hard rein which both of them have borne 
Against the kind old king." 

In the Academy for Dec. 29, 1883, Mr. A. H. Bullen 
quotes from Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady, iv. 

2 : — 

**Ifhe start well. 
Fear not, but cry * St. George,* and bear him hard. 
When you perceive his wind grows hot and wanting, 
Let him a little down ; he's fleet, ne*er doubt him." 

Here clearly bear him hard is an equestrian phrase, to be 


illustrated, perhaps, by the last quotations made above, or 
to be explained by taking bear in the sense of " to hold up." 
In the Academy for Jan. 26, 1884, Mr. W. T. Lendrum aptly 
quotes an old rime : — 

" Up the hill spare me ; 
Down the hill bear me ; 
On the level spare me not" 

(Another version of the last line is, I think : — 

" On the level never fear me.") 

Of course it is possible the phrase that is the subject of 
this paper may be identical with this equestrian phrase. 
But this is far from certain. Undoubtedly there are two 
phrases to bear hard: (i.) the Latinistic phrase which appears 
beyond question in the quotation given above from i Henry 
IV,, I. iii. 70, and (ii.) the equestrian phrase which appears 
beyond question in the quotation just repeated from The 
Scornful Lady. 




(From the Athmceum for Oct. 20, 1877.) 

TO his editions of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth^ Mr. 
Furaess has now added one of Hamlet^ in every way 
sustaining the high character which the preceding volunaes 
of his series have won. The amount of work which these 
volumes represent almost defies calculation. Whole wilder- 
nesses have been traversed, dense forests penetrated, wide 
bogs and swamps struggled across. For Hamletian litera- 
ture is now of quite portentous dimensions. Scribimus in- 
docti doctique. Everybody believes he has something to say 
on the subject, and he must needs print it. He cannot be 
content to explain his views to his family, or disclose them 
to a few privileged friends. Criticism, like murder, will gut; 
and so library shelves grow crowded with "essays," and 
" studies," and " lectures " ; and chaos seems come again. 
What do we not owe to one who adventures to grapple with 
all this infinite host of commentators, who indefatigably en- 
counters each of them, and takes something of him, if any- 
thing is found worth taking, and, finally, arranges his spoils 
for our use in two excellently printed and manageable 
octavos ? It is not easy to overstate our debt, if such a 
service is executed vigorously and intelligently ; and cer- 

' A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare, Edited by Horace 
Howard Fumess. Vol. III. — Hamlet. 2 vols. (Lippincott and Co.) 


tainly Mr. Fumess^s labours may be so described. His 
researches have extended far and wide, from elaborate 
volumes to Notes and X^ueries. Germany and France, no 
less than America and England, are well represented in his 
pages. In a word,- he has produced a work that may fairly 
be termed encyclopaedic 

The first volume contains the text, with various readings, 
and an abundant selection of notes. The second, which is 
called "Appendix," consists of some thirty-six pages. dis- 
cussing " the date and the text " ; of copies of the 1603 4to., 
The Hystorie of Hamblet^ Fratricide Punished (a translation 
of the old German play), and 250 pages of selected criti- 

That there are no faults both of omission and commission 
we will not undertake to say, or rather we will say it is im- 
possible there should not be such faults. Such a compila- 
tion cannot be exhaustive ; and, on the othefhand, one may 
now and then wonder whether certain notes quite deserve 
the room they occupy. Such a suggestion, for example, as 
Keightley's with regard to ** upspring," in a well-known line 
that has given rise to much controversy — " it is used," he 
says, " collectively for the risers from the table, a mode of 
expression not yet obsolete" (as if one should say "the 
rise " for the risers^ or " the jump " for the jumpers^ — is of 
so little value that we rather grudge it its place. But, on 
the whole, Mr. Fumess has done his part with singular dis- 
cretion as well as with comprehensive knowledge. 

We congratulate Mr. Fumess on having proceeded so far 
with his great undertaking, and wish him all success in his 
further progress. Our generation sorely needs its Vario- 
rum, The value of the old one is still considerable. 
Though it has in it much rubbish, it has, at the same time, 
much that is extremely useful and suggestive. But it is out 


of date. Though we would carefully eschew the vulgar 
error of underrating the services of the old annotators, yet 
we may fairly assert that many valuable lights have been 
thrown on the pages of Shakespeare since their time ; and 
the fresh decipherings need a judicious collection. In 
another century Mr. Fumess's work, too, may be super- 
seded — superseded as the standard Variorum of the 
time ; as an excellent compendium of Shakespearian know- 
ledge and interpretation as they are in the Victorian age, it 
is never likely to be superseded. 

But that it may soon require additions no one can know 
better than its editor ; for, in the course of his work, he has 
been forced specially to observe how rapid nowadays is the 
growth of Shakespearian literature. Every week brings its 
contributions of more or less value ; and it is certain that a 
more thorough familiarity with other Elizabethan literature 
will yield yet new aids to the understanding of passages that 
at present have a wrong interpretation given them, or, when 
editors speak frankly, no interpretation at all. 

The fact is, the subject is simply inexhaustible. The 
study of Shakespeare is as the study of Nature herself, 
whose favourite son he was. And the best of Shakespeare- 
students, if we ask him, as Charmian asked the soothsayer, 
" Is't you, sir, that know things ? " will reply, the more 
humbly and sincerely the better he is, — 

**In Nature's infinite book of secrecy 
A little I can read. " 

"A little I can read " — that is all that the truly competent 
scholar will dare to say. 

Even with regard to such a trite subject as Hamlet^s mad- 
ness, — forty pages are devoted to it by Mr. Furness, — there 
is yet much more to be suggested and considered. It has 


often been asked what purpose that simulation serves. Cer- 
tainly one good turn ths^t it did Hamlet, which, we think, 
has not been sufficiently noticed, was this : it enabled him 
to break off all relations of civility with the uncle whose 
nature he detested — towards whom he was filled with a deep- 
rooted antipathy. To begin with, Hamlet can scarcely bring 
himself to show common politeness to King Claudius. He 
instinctively loathes him. What a welcome protection, then, 
he found in that " antic disposition " he " put on " — put on 
with so little effort, so overwrought was the sensibility of a 
keenly sensitive organism. As a madman, he secured for 
hitnself a freedom in what he said and did that was not 
otherwise to be obtained. He could close all communica- 
tion with what he hated. He could deliver himself from a 
contact he abhorred. He could give vent to the bitter 
feelings that oppressed and choked him. And so with re- 
gard to Polonius. If the King vexed and irritated his fine- 
strung nature by his superlative hypocrisy, every word from 
his lying lips piercing Hamlet like a sting, so Polonius in- 
flamed him with contemptuous anger by his impertinent 
self-sufficiency. Hamlet could find out nothing ; here was 
a miserable sciolist who could find out everything : — 

** If circumstances lead me, I will find 
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed 
Within the centre." 

Of this " tedious old fool '' Hamlet is little less impatient 
than of that crowned and sceptred liar, his uncle. And in 
respect of ^ him, too, his madness provides a safety-valve. 
He can speak his mind with impunity. He can let the 
fire that bums within blaze out in the faces of those who 
kindle it^ and such liberty is an unspeakable relief to him. 
Without it he would be consumed by his wrath and scorn, 


his scsva indignatio — would perish "a. cannibal of his own 
heart," in the midst of the folly and shame and sin that 
benetted him round. 

(From the Academy for Dec! i, 1877.) 

TH5 old Variorum with all its faults is still an edition 
which no really well-appointed Shakespearian library 
can dispense with. If the homely old saw is quoted that 
" too many cooks spoil the broth," we may reply — for one 
proverb may generally have another pitted against it— 
" where no counsel is, the people fall ; but in the multitude 
of counsellors ^here is safety." We need scarcely say, then, 
that a new Variorum^ edited by one so competent as Mr. 
Furness, deserves a hearty welcome. Such is the mass of 
Shakespearian literature that has appeared since the days of 
Malone, and is annually appearing in growing abundance, 
that a sifter has become absolutely necessary. Perhaps in 
the economy of the future a paternal Government may see 
its way to nominate a public official for this service. 
Assuredly the lp.bours of such a functionary would not be 
light. We picture him with his assistant clerks, each pro- 
vided with a huge sieve, finding all he and they can do too 
little for the occasion, so rapidly does the heap of Shake- 
spearian matter rise and spread. It is impossible to over- 
estimate the amount of the rubbish that is contributed — and 
l)erhaps no age has contributed in this kind more largely 
than our own ; but it must all be looked through on the 
chance of there being some minute fragment worth pre- 
serving—a chance often proved worthless. Of many a 
critic it must be said that he ** speaks an infinite deal of 
nothing. . . . His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid 


in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find 
them ; and when you have them they are not worth the 
search." The best thing would be if this outpouring of 
rubbish could be stopped : if a would-be Shakespearian 
author were compelled to come forward in the same guise as 
a would-be legislator jn a certain Greek State — />., with a 
halter round his neck so that he might be hanged inconti- 
nently if what he had to say was found of no value ; but, as 
in the present state of modern feeling there is no hope of 
such vigorous measures — such masterly activity — and these 
gentlemen are in fact irrepressible, all that can be done is to 
get somebody to sift or weed for us. Even such a benefactor 
is the editor of the New Variorum, 

The Romeo and Juliet volume appeared in 1873; the 
Macbeth shortly afterwards ; and now we have Hamlet in two 
volumes, one containing the texts and various readings and 
notes, the other "an accurate reprint of the Quarto of 
1603 ; a reprint of the Hystorie of Hamblet ; a translation of 
Der Bestrafte Brudermord^ together with aesthetic criticism 
from more than a hundred and twenty-five English, German 
and French authors." 

As before, Mr. Furness has done his part excellently. 
" The public " may cordially accept the assurance of the 
publishers " that these volumes contain the essence of a 
whole library of Hamlet literature." 

One omission we must lament — the omission of an index 
to the second volume. There is one to vol. i. \ and vol. ii. 
has what is called " a table of contents." But this table is 
not full enough. Convenience of reference rs of the utmost 
importance in such a compilation. We have no wish to 
"carp"'; we are infinitely obliged and indebted to Mr. 
Furness for what he has done for us ; but how welcome 
a good index to the second volume would have been ! 


Of course it is impossible that such a work should be 
exhaustive. Mr. Fumess can only undertake to gather for 
us what seems most suggestive and useful ; and, as we have 
said, he has discharged his part admirably. It is not, there- 
fore, with any intention to accuse him of shortcomings that 
we mention one or two illustrations not to be found, we 
believe, in his volumes, which some Sit least of our readers 
may care to have pointed out to them. 

Apropos of 

" Thrift, thrift, Horatio ! the funeral baked meats 
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables." 

might be noticed a speech of Quicksilver's in Eastward Hoe 
— a play to be specially studied by all who wish to observe 
and explore Shakespeare's influence on the contemporary 
drama. When Gertrude asks why her sister does not wait 
on. her to her coach, " Marry, madam," replies Quicksilver, 
" she's married by this time to Prentice Goulding. Your 
father, and some one more, stole to church with them in all 
the haste, that the cold meat left at your wedding might 
serve to furnish their nuptial table." In his note to " His 
beard was white as snow," Mr. Furness, we see, quotes 
Steevens' remark that " this and several circumstances in the 
character of Ophelia seem to have been ridiculed in East- 
ward Jloe^ by Jonson, Chapman, and Marston, 1605 ;" but 
Steevens's remark is scarcely extensive enough. 

Act. ii. sc. 2. Here is a passage worth quoting from the 
Insatiate Countess : — " Sancta Maria I " cries the Count of 
Arsena when Roberts announces to him his immediate 
marriage, — 

" what thinkst thou of this change ? 
A player's passion I'll believe hereafter, 
And in a tragic scene weep for Old Priam, 
.When fell revenging Pirrhus with supposed 



And artificial wounds mangles his breast, 
And think it a more 'worthy act to me 
Than trust a female mourning o*er her love." 

I. ii. 114. See Chapman's May-Day (vol. ii. 373, ed. 

i»73) :— 

** Come, be not retrograde to our desire." 

I. iv. 73. With this use of "deprive," compare A 
Hundred Merry Tales, ed. Oesterley, p. 102 : — "The seventh 
[commandment] to steal nor deprive no man^s goods by 
theft, robbery, extortion, usury, nor deceit." 

II. ii. 579. " The play's the thing," &c. See Heywood's 
Apology for Actors, page 5 7, of the Shakespeare Society's 
reprint, " Of a Strange Accident happening at a Play," how 
was awakened the conscience of a murderess at Lynn, " the 
then Earl of Sussex, players acting the Old History of Fryer 
Francis, and presenting a woman who insatiately doting on 
a young gentleman, the more securely to enjoy his affection, 
mischievously and secretly murdered her husband, whose 
ghost haunted her." See also Massinger's Roman Actor, 
ii. I : — 

" Sir, with your pardon, 
111 offer my advice : I once observed 
In a tragedy of ourSj in which a murder 
Was acted to the life, a guilty hearer 
Forced by the terror of a wounded conscience 
To make discovery of that which torture 
Could not wring from him. Nor can it appear 
Like an impossibility but that 
Your father," &c. 

III. i. 65-8. Compare Massinger's Maid of Honour, 
ii. 4 : — 

** How willingly, like Cato, 
Could I tear out my bowels rather than 
Look on the conqueror's insulting face ; 


But that religion and the horrid dream 

To be suffered in the other world denies it." 

There is good illustration of Hamlet's remarks on the 
hard drinking of the Danes and the bad name they have for 
it — how their " addition " is soiled with " swinish phrase "— 
• in Puree Pennilesse. Nash concludes a violent diatribe against 
them' by declaring that they are " bursten-bellied sots that 
are to be confuted with nothing but tankards or quart pots. 
.... God so love me as I love the quick-witted Italians, 
and therefore love them more because they mortally detest 
this surly swinish generation." See also Lambarde's Peram- 
bulation of Kent^ pp. 318-21, ed. 1826. 

That image of the mole — to show how a single defect 
spoils everything — which Hamlet uses in the same speech, is 
found also in Pandosto — a fact that is worth noticing as 
perhaps one of the many signs of Shakespeare's familiarity 
with Greene's writings. " One mole," says Bellaria, " staineth 
the whole face ; and what is once spotted with infamy can 
hardly be worn out with time." 

We do not see that Mr. Fumess has pointed out in 
Armin's Nest , of Ninnies — on the same page of the "Shake- 
speare Society's reprint " with the phrase in " the top of 
question" (which we observe Staunton has noted)— the 
words, " There are, as Hamlet says, things called whips in 
store." Though Hamlet does not say sO, yet perhaps the 
ascription of the saying to him may be taken as a mark of 
his popularity." The nearest approach to the words is 
in 2 Henry VI, ^ H. i. 139, Gloucester loq. : "My masters 
of Saint Alban's, have you not beadles in your town, and 
things called whips ? " Possibly the quotation may come 
from some earlier form of the play. See Mr. Halliwell- 
Phillipps's Memoranda on Hamlet, 




(From the Academy for March ii, 1876.) 

THE following quotation from a well-known book is cer- 
tainly noteworthy with regard- to the question of 
Hamlet's age ; — 

" For fashion sake some (Danes) will put their children to 
echoole, but they set them not to it till* they are fourteene 
years old ; so that you shall see a great boy with a beard 
leame his A. B. C., and sit weeping under the rod when he 
is thirty years old." — Nash's Pierce Penniless^ s Supplication 
to the Devil^ ed. Collier, for the Shakespeare Society, p. 27. 

So, after all, there is perhaps less inconsistency in the 
play than has been supposed. I do not mean that there is 



(From the Athmaum for Sept. 14, 1878.) 

I AM not aware that the following extract has ever been 
quoted to illustrate a well-known passage in Hamlet, 
It may have been so, for the industry and keenness of 


Shakespearian commentators in search of quotations have 
been no less remarkable than the eager interest of Spartacus 
in the contents of Roman cellars, whose raids, as we gather 
. from Horace, scarcely anywhere had a bottle been able to 
elude. However, if ever quoted, it is certainly not generally 
known. It occurs in neither Malone's nor Mr. Furness's 
Variorum ; so I give it here — ^give it as quoted by Cunning- 
ham in his Handbook of London : — " He embraced one young 
gentleman and gave him many riotous instructions how to 
carry himself .... told him he must acquaint himself with 
many gallants of the Inns of Court, and keep rank with those 
that spend most . . , His lodging must be about the Strand 
in any case, being remote from the handicraft scent of the 
City; his eating must be in some famous tavern, as the 
Horn, the Mitre, or the Mermaid j and then after . dinner, 
he must venture beyond sea, that is in a choice pair of 
nobleman's oars to the Bankside, where he must sit out the 
breaking up ( = the carving) of a comedy ; or the first cut of 
a tragedy ; or rather if his humours so serve him, to call in 
at the Blackfriars, where he should see a nest of boys able 
to ravish a man." — Father Hubburd's Tales ^ 4to. 1604. 

1604 is the date of the first complete quarto oi Hamlet; 
1603 of the imperfect quarto; 1602 of the entry in the 
Registers of the Stationers' Company of " a book the Revenge 
of Hamlet Frince of Denmark as it lately was acted by the 
Lord Chamberlain his servants." 

The "rather" and the last words exactly illustrate what 
Rosencrantz says of the extraordinary popularity of certain 
children-actors — how these are now the fashion. The phrase 
*' a nest of boys " cannot but remind everybody of Shake- 
speare's " aery o{ children, little eyases." Aire is translated 
by Cotgrave, ^ An Airie or nest of hawkes." 

The fact that the passage from "How comes it? Do 


they grow rusty ? " down to " Ay, that they do, my lord ; 
Hercules and his load'too'* is not found in any of the 
quartos, does not of course in the least interfere with the 
value of this illustration. 


(From the Atkencsum for Jan. 8, 1881.) 

IT is interesting to note that the great writer who has just 
gone from us was a native of the same part of the 
country as Shakespeare, and that her works no less than his 
illustrate the Midlands, and are to be illustrated from them ; 
and further, that their works illustrate each other. They were 
both Warwickshire born — Shakespeare of a Warwickshire 
race, " George Eliot's " father a Staffordshire man. In the 
veins of both ran some Keltic blood, if, not relying on their 
literary styles, we may depend upon the names Arden and 
Evans. Much might be said of the relation of these two 
great authors to Middle-March, or Mercia, or the Midlands, 
and to each other. But I only propose now to mention a 
curious illustration of a certain phrase in Hamlet to be 
found — though never yet noticed, I think — in Adam Bede. 
It is the phrase used by Rosencrantz of the boy-actors ; 
they are described as " an aery of children, little eyases, that 
cry out on the top of question.'* About this " crying out 
on the top of question" there has been "much throwing 
about of brains." Some commentators have not understood 
*' on th,e top of" and others have not understood " question." 
Not that no one has hit upon the right interpretation — that 


is the interpretation which I think it will be allowed is justi- 
fied by the below quotation from Mr. Bartle Massey. Messrs. 
Clarke and Wright, in their excellent edition of Hamlet, say 
that the phrase " means probably to speak in a high key 
dominating conversation." Now let us hear the Hayslope 
schoolmaster, speaking of Martin Poyser's establishment. 
" There's too many women in the house for me," says the 
mispgynist ; " I hate the sound of women's voices ; they are 
always either a-buzz or a-squeak — are always either a-buzz 
or a-squeak. Mrs. Poyser keeps at the top d the talk like a 
ffer &c. 

That " question " in Shakespeare's language means dia- 
logue; conversation, talk, has been pointed out by Steevens, 
Elze, and others. 



(From the Academy for May 15, 1880.) 

THE idea that Shakespeare teaches false morality in the 
well-known line — 

" Assume a virtue if you have it not " — 

arises entirely, not from any misunderstanding of the word 
assume (Mr. Aldis Wright has surely made its meaning 
plain enough if there could be any doubt about it), but 
through cutting off the line from its context. If it is not so 
dissociated, '' assume " needs no new gloss, but has, and 
it must have, its ordinary sense. Shakespeare certainly 
does say, " Wear the guise of a virtue, even if you do 


not possess that virtue;" but the context explains the 
seemingly immoral mandate. The guise or habit is to be 
worn in the hope that it may assist the growth — the ac- 
quisition-*— of the virtue. Now such quoters of the line as so 
justly offend Mr. Spalding forget the context altogether — 
forget the worthy purpose for which the virtuous guise is to 
be worn; and, in fact, suggest that* it is to be worn to 
deceive others — to make others believe that the wearer of it 
really possesses the virtue. 

Once sever a line from its context, and strange things may 
be made of it It was Archbishop Whateley, I think, who 
pointed out that, if we allowed ourselves the liberty of 
ignoring the surroundings of a phrase, we could discover 
in the New Testament such a sentiment as "Hang all 
the law and the prophets " ! 




(From the Fortnightly Review for January, 1875.) 

THE plays of King Lear, Cymbeltne, Macbeth, and 
Hamlet are all founded on what passed for historical 
fact in the sixteenth century, or was then only just beginning 
to be discredited ; and yet it is quite right to rank them, not 
with the History Plays, but with the Tragedies. They are 
so ranked in the folio of 1623, which was, as is well known, 
edited by two of Shakespeare's fellow-actors ; and the error 
made by certain commentators of the last century in putting 
Macbeth among the Histories has been generally corrected 
in recent editions. And the reason fot this classification is, 
that in these plays the so-called historical facts do not govern 
the drama, but rather the drama the facts. It is not Shake- 
speare's purpose in them to attempt an accurate delineation 
of events, to portray in vivid colours and as faithfully as 
might be the details of a bfgone age, to enable his audience 
to realize the past of their own or some other country. In 
these plays he gives himself a license in which he does not 
indulge in the Histories properly so called. In the Histories, 
indeed, he frequently departs from chronological order, and 
he amplifies or contracts the process of events as the case 
seems to demand; but he never flagrantly disobeys and 
neglects the authorities he followed — the current authorities 
of his day — as to the leading issues and results that are re- 
lated by them. He does not take upon him to amend the 
decisions of time as so reported, but makes it his work to 


set them forth graphically and to interpret them with all the 
intelligence he can command. But in the four plays above 
mentioned, Shakespeare does not restrict himself in this way ; 
he readjusts, and alters, and adds as his art requires. The 
old stories are merely clay in his hands, which he reshapes 
an^. moulds with just the same freedom that he allowed him- 
self in dealing with confessed fiction. 

But yet it must not be forgotten that there is in these plays 
a historical element. We shall seriously misunderstand them, 
or at least fail to take up the right position for understand- 
ing them, if we do not recognize this. It is a fact that there 
were such persons as Cymbeline, Macbeth, and Hamlet; 
and it is a fact, whether we believe in King Lear's existence 
or not — and there is not the slightest evidence of it — that 
the Elizabethan age believed in it What our latest historical 
inquiries have determined about* him is not the question. 
The question is what Shakespeare's era thought about- him. 
In every age there are hosts of beliefs in circulation which 
are of no intrinsic trustworthiness, and which a better in- 
structed time will scatter to the winds ; and yet a student 
would make a fatal mistake if he ignored them. . Now King 
Lear was a reality to the ordinary Eli^bethan. The narra- 
tive of his reign had a place in the ancient British history 
then commonly received, as it still has in the less critical of 
histories of Britain by Welshmen. It was first brought into 
general currency by that very dubious work, Geoffrey of 
Monmouth's History of the Britons^ where in a veracious . 
list of monarchs stret;phing from Brutus, the great-grandson 
•^ of ^neas, down to Cadwallader, who died at Rome in 689 
• ^^2^, appears, tenth in order. King Lear, who, we are told, 
reigned sixty years somewhat before the times when the pro; 
phets Isaiah and Rosea flourished, and Rome was built upon 
the eleventh before the kalends of May by the two brothers 


Romulus and Remus. So Lear was definitely located in the 
first half of the eighth century before Christ. Through the 
Middle Ages this dynasty of which he w;as a member was 
universally regarded as something substantial. Thus Sir 
John Fortescue, the eminent lawyer of the fifteenth century, 
remarks gravely in his work on the laws of England : "Con- 
cerning the different powers which kings claim o^^r their 
subjects, I am firmly of opinion that it arises solely from the 
different nature of the original institutions. So the kingdom 
of Britain had its original from Brutus and the I'rojans who 
attended him from Italy and Greece, and was a mixed govern- 
ment, compounded of the regal and democratic." And even 
so late as the reign of James I., LoM Chief Justice Coke 
declared that the original laws of this land were composed 
of such elements as Brutus first selected from the ancient 
Greek and Roman institutions. Holinshed, whom Shake- 
speare uses so extensively, is never troubled with a doubl as 
to these primeval potentates. Perhaps the first Englishman 
who dared to suspect them — an Englishman possessed of 
learning and a sagacity rarely surpassed — was Camden. In 
his ReliquicB BritanniccB^ published in 1604, he, to quote 
a contemporary, **bl^w away sixty British kings with one 
blast." Their majesties would not bear criticism ; and when 
it dared to touch their royal persons, they grew paler and 
paler, thinner and thinner, mistier and mistier, till at last 
there was nothing of them tangible or visible. The day of 
, historical science was dawning, and these imperial phantoms 
that had walked the earth in the night-time with so positiye 
a tread and so commanding a presence faded and vanished, 
their sceptres melting into thin air, their crowns dissolving 


like glittering bubbles. 

But I say that to appreciate duly this play of King Lear 
we must remember that the central figure of it was in Shake- 


speare's time commonly believed in as a veritable personage. 
For, though Shakespeare shows no minute observance of the 
traditional tale, yet he by no means totally ignores it. And 
so the plays of Cymbeitne, Macbeth, and Hamlet have marks 
upon them of the various centuries to which their stories 
belong. Like their author, they are not of an age, but of all 
time ; but yet they are not absolutely and recklessly severeS 
from their age. Cymbeline is placed by Shakespeare in the cen- 
tury in which thfe old chronicles place him, and in both 
Hamlet and Macbeth there are features that associate these 
plays with the eleventh century, in which the historical 
Hamlet and the historical Macbeth did in fact live. Now 
let us notice what signs there are in King Lear of a far-away 
pre-Christian century, such as that eighth in which I have 
already said the Lear of the legends was supposed to have 

The fact I wish particularly to point out is that Shake- 
speare has in this play purposely and deliberately conducted 
us into heathefn times, and by this heathenizing acknow- 
ledged the chronology of the old traditions. Anachronisms 
no doubt there are, as when Regan speaks of Edgar as "my 
father's godson." Shakespeare is never over-careful about 
such matters. Does not Hector, in Troilus and Cr^ssida^ 
quote Aristotle? Indeed, he sometimes trespasses in this 
way " of malice prepense " — ^as when he makes the Fool, 
in act iii. scene 2, utter a prophecy after the manner of 
Merlin : — 


When priests are more in word than matter, 
When brewers mar their malt with water, 
Wheii nobles are their tailors' tutors, 
No heretics burned but wenches* suitors, 
When every case in law is right, 
No squire in debt, nor no poor knight, 
When slanders do not live in tongues, 


Nor cutpurses come not to, throngs ; 
Then shall the realm of Albion 
Come to great confusion ; 
Then comes the time, who lives to see't, 
That going sliall be us*d with feet " 

and then calmly add : "This prophecy Merlin shall make; 
for I live before his time." It is none the less true for these 
and siriiilar slips, intentional or unintentional, that the atmo- 
sphere of King Lmr is the atmosphere of heathendom. In 
this play the poet has, for a certain purpose, travelled back 
into the ages of darkness and barbarity. He has consciously 
quitted the light that surrounded with more or less splen- 
dour his own times, and passed into a land where the rays 
of civilization were only just beginning to glimmer, where 
the passions of men yet raged in all their violence, untamed 
and unshackled, and nature still reigned, wild, unredeemed, 

Amongst all Shakespeare's plays there is not one that re- 
sembles King Lear in this respect. The kil]g hii'nself, with 
his swiftly-kindled furies and his terrible fierce curses, seems 
at- tin ies^ scai ccl y humo ft^as Shakespeare for the most part 
drew humanity. G oneril, and Regan ^ anf| FHmn nfl — what 
strange, savage figures are these, whose eyes burn with mere 
hate, and feet are swift to shed blood ! " Then let them 
anatomize Regan — see what breeds about her heart. Is there 
any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts ? " This 
Cornwall plucking out Gloster's eyes — 

** Out, vile jelly, 
Where is thy lustre now ? " — 

there is nothing nearly so frightful in all the Shakespearian 
theatre, or so little capable of defence so far as the perpetra- 
tion of this crime on the stage is concerned. What crowd- 
ing horrors, atrocities, ghastlinesses ! One seems to be among 



" the dragons of the prime." It is true that there are beings 
in the play of a far different order. There is Kent, the true 
and faithful, whom the outrageous wrath of Lear cannot 
alienate; but even Kent is characterized by a certain im- 
petuosity and vehemence ; he returns wrath for wrath : — 

" Be Kent unmannerly 
When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man ? 
Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak 
When power to flattery bows ? To plainness honour's bound, 
When majesty falls to folly. Reverse thy doom, 
I And in thy best consideration check 

This hideous rashness. 


Lear, Now, by Apollo, — 
• Kent, Now, by Apollo, king, 

Thou swear'st thy gods in vain. 

Lear, O, vassal ! miscreant ! 

Alb, <Sy* Com, Dear sir, forbear. 

Kent, Do ; kill thy physician, and the fee bestow 
Upon the foul disease. Revoke thy doom ; 
Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat, 
I'll tdl thee, tliou dost evil." 

And, when he encounters the steward, who is indeed his 
opposite, as base as he is noble, as faithless as he is trusty, 
as self-loving as he self-sacrificing, he cannot contain his 
passion, but breaks out into»a very torrent of abuse. There 
is Cordelia, too, all truthfulness and piety, so that one may 
well marvel how she can be sister to Goneril and Regan, and 


may clearly understand Kent's perplexity when he cries 

out : — 

• "It is the stars. 

The stars above us, govern our conditions 5 
Else one self mate and mate could not b^et 
Such different issues." 

And thjere are "Edgar and Albany, also, to counterweigh the 
deformities that constitute those other characters. But still 


it is true that such deformities abound in such a degree in no 
other Shakespearian play. 

And for this reason much adverse criticism has been 
levelled at King Zearand its author. Inferences have been 
drawn from it highly unfavourable to the culture of the 
Elizabethan age. It has been forgotten how in other pieces 
Shakespeare has shown himself capable of depicting the 
highest possible refinement and the truest conceivable 
humanity, and remembered only that here he has painted 
monsters. Such criticism, like the greater part of the un- 
friendly criticism that prevailed mainly under French leader- 
ship during the last century, and yet lingers on in less in- 
formed quarters in our own day, is based on an imperfect 
conception of Shakespeare's purpose. It has not beefl seen 
that, as I have already said, it was his design in this play to 
depict an age unruly and turbulent, only now emerging from 
barbarism, in whose ears the still voice of conscience was 
scarcely yet audible, when Passion was yet lord of all, and 
the influences that broaden the division between men 
and brutes were as yet but faintly exercising their divine 

If then we would appreciate this masterpiece of Shake- 
speare's art, we must turn our eyes back into that cruder and 
wilder world of which it is an fmage, and see in those re- 
morseless, callous forms, in whose lineaments we cannot 
readily discern the emotions of humanity, the proper inha- 
bitants of such a sphere. 

Christianity is indeed conspicuous by its absence in the 
play. " It is the stars," cries out Kent, as we have already 
heard : — 

" The stars above us govern our conditions." 

Observe, too, Lear's heathen oaths :—r 

KING LEAR. * ' 249 

** by the sacred radiance of the sun ; 
The mysteries of Hecate, and the night ; 
By all the operation of the orbs, 
From whom we do exist, and cease to be. " 

It is " the gods " he cites in another passage as " themselves 
throwing incense upon such sacrifices" as Cordelia and 
himself, when they have fallen 'in the hands of their 

And not only are there such certain and designed indi- 
cations of a far remote paganism in King Lear, but also — 
and this is a point I believe not hitherto perceived — 
Shakespeare is not unmindful of the race to which his story 
belonged. Shakespeare had a keen sense of national cha- 
racter. This appears in several of his plays : eminently in 
the Merchant of J^enice, where he paints his immortal por- 
trait of the Jew : in Romeo and Juliet^ where he depicts the 
swiftly susceptible temperament of Italy; in Othello^ where 
the hot blood of North Africa glows in the veins of his hero. 
To this list I propose to add King Lear as a strikingly faith- 
ful picture of the Celtic race. 

If it is asked, where he had studied this race, the answer 
is, not so much through books as through direct observation. 
It was not Shakspere's way to look at nature through spec- 
tacles, or any such instruments, if he could help it. He 
looked at her face to face; dared, not irreverently, but 
yet steadily, t& gaze into her very eyes, and listen for him- 
self to the beatings of her heart. And this is why his works 
are so inestimable ; they are not mere copies of copies, but 
taken ducctly fi-om the original. Nature herself visited the 
studio of this artist, and sat serene and patient while his 
pencil traced her imperishable features. So, wishing to 
portray Celts, Shakspere gave his attention, not to printed 
descriptions, but the living and breathing specimens of the 


race as they were to be se^ and known in Great Britain. 
In the older play the king of Cambria is specially addressed 
as " Welshman." It was as well, known in the sixteenth 
century as. now that the Welshmen were the direct descen- 
dants of the Ancient Britons. Therefore, if anywhere, the 
posterity of King Lear was to be found (in the original story 
his family is not extinguished as in Shakespeare's version, but 
perpetuated through the children of Goneril and Regan), it 
was to be found amongst the Welsh. Some years before he 
wrote King Lear Shakespeare had studied and portrayed the 
Welshman. In his Henry V., written in 1599, he has 
brought together representatives of the various components 
of our nation. There is Macmorris the Irishman, Jamy the 
Scotchman, besides of course Englishmen of different 
grades and various characters ; and the^ is Flue lien, the 
brave, high-spirited, quick-blooded, fantastic Welshman, 
full of natural pride, and a determined avenger*of all insults 
offered to ** the leek." 

" I do know Fluellen valiant. 
And touched with choler, hot as gunpowder, 
And quickly will return an injury." 

King Lear takes us into the midst of such a race — a race 
highly inflammable, headstrong, flushed with sudden angers, 
and breaking out into wild violences, but also, in its better 
children at least, of a deep tenderness and. sincerity; in 
short, a highly emotional race, quickly stirred to good and 
to evil ; swift to love, swift to hate ; blessing and cursing 
with the same breath ; with eyes, now full of a gentle solici- 
tude and regard, now flashing into an intolerant rfrenzy of 
detestation ; a blind hysterical race, if not wisely counselled 
and judiciously led; but under good auspices springing 
forward, with a splendid vivacity, to the highest prizes of 
glory and honour. This is a perilous temperament, and 

KING LEAR. . 251 

there is no prophet who shall say what its career shall be — 
whether it will reconcile itself to the bonds and the bars of 
existence, or dash itself to pieces in a fierce revolt. It is 
perhaps true that there is no middle path for it ; it must 
either triumph or perish. Look now at the characters in 
our play. Is not the king himself the very type of his 
race? The Teutonic mind can scarcely follow the rapid 
revolutions of his fiery spirit. Here we see an intensely 
sensitive nature, that yearns for love, and even for the mere 
profession of it, suddenly flaming out into an outrageous 
wrath, and banning and banishing the dearest and truest 
treasures of his life. Look at Kent, as we have already 
seen him, no less swiftly convulsed and frenzied than the 
master, whom, for all his wildness, he serves to the very 
death. Look at Cornwall : — 

'* You know the fiery quality of the duke. 
How unremovahle and fix'd he is 
In his own course." 

and note Lear's frantic reply : — 

" Vengeance ! plague ! death ! confusion I 
Fiery ? what quality ? " 

And Cordelia — is she too not a true daughter of her father 
and of her race ? Is not the Celtic impulsiveness her cha- 
racteristic? Why will "our joy, although the last, not 
least," not respond when the old man asks her for some ex- 
pression of her love ? Was it well that she should harden 
herself against that yearning cry ? Ah I she was a child of 
her race, and the indignation that was kindled in her fine 
soul by the falsehoods of her sisters overcame every other 
feeling; and not 'to draw 

'* A third more opulent than her sisters," 


nay, not to pleasure that father for whom she was ready, as 


she proved, to give up everything that she might cherish 
him, would she then make a single overture* of afiection I 

Thus in King Lear we pass into a remote pre-Chri^pan 
age, and into the midst of another race than our own ; and 
so the play has a certain historical and a certain ethool<^;ical 
interest* But it has another interest far transcendii^ these 
— a great humail interest ; and it is on this only we will now 
fix our thoughts. Seen in a certain light, the distinctions of 
ages and of races are merely triviaL '*A touch of nature 
makes the whole world kin ; " or, as the Latin poet expresses 
it, ''I am a man, and nothing that is human do I deem 
alien." And the reason why, to the end of time, men will 
stand and gaze, all rapt and absorbed, on this picture^ is 
because it represents human life, not any ^>ecial time ^ 
people. The picture is individual, but it is also t3rpical; 
it is -of men, but it is also of mankind ; it is of an age, but it 
is also of all time. 

King Lear deals especially with the natural man as 
opposed to the artificial man. When the King saw Edgar, 
then a Tom o' Bedlam, in the great storm scene, he 
exclaims — 

*' Is man no more than this ? Consider him welL Thou owest the 
worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep no wool, the cat no perfiunei 
Ha! here's three on 's [himself, the Fool, Kent] are sophisticated! 
Thou art the thing itself : unaccommodated man is no more but such 
a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art. Off, ofi^ you lendings ! Come; 
unbutton here.'' 

And he tears his clothes oflf him. And this bare-stripped 
figure, in that awful scene, may serve as an image of the 
society the play represents. It is a society with all its dis- 
guises torn off. The passions walk abroad, bold and confident. 
Greed lifts up its head unabashed ; Lust scorns all holy ties; 
Wrath rages like a tempest. A fearful earth, indeed, if given 


over to such accursed powers I But it is not so. There is 
also the passion of Love, and throughout the play love is 
performing its secret ministry. Good and evil close in a 
•fierce struggle, as always where there is life, and not mere 
death ; and in the end good prevails, as in the end it must 
prevail : for evil has not only good to encounter, but it has 
to fight with itself: it is essentially self-consuming. So that 
in this play we have presiented to us humanity in its purest 
and simplest elements — humanity unsophisticated, denuded 
of all its " lendings," with its natural impulses all unchecked 
and potent. 

Now, in the space at our disposal, it is impossible to 
attempt to examine in detail a work of such multiform inte- 
rest as this play. It might be well worth our while to ob- 
serve Goneril and Regan, and see how like and how diffe- 
rent they are ; how in both there reigns a certain shameless 
effrontery of selfishness, while in the elder sister there is an 
originality of crime with which the other is not endowed; 
so that while in the matter of morality there is little to choose 
between them, in intellectual activity Goneril has the advan- 
tage, or disadvantage. 

Or we might attend to the striking contrast developed be- 
tween the Steward and Kent — ^a contrast already mentioned; 
how the one is the very image of the time-server, the other 
of the truth-server ; how the one lends himself to all vile 
uses, the other maintains his integrity at any cost, and finds 
it banishment, and not freedom, to be where loud lies pre- 
vail over modest sincerity; how the one lives and moves 
only for himself, the other only for others. 

Of the Fool might attract u^ with his strange, keen sense 
of his master's folly in his abdication — a sense quickened 
by the tender love he bears him and the daughter that 
resembles him, — the Fool who, "since my young lady's 



going into France, hath much pmed away/' and whose 
heart breaks amidst the fell distresses that presently fall 
upon the house, — tenderest of jesters ! 

Or we might follow the course of the Earl of Gloucester, 
from the ominous carelessness of his first appearance, to the 
time when the clouds, which indeed his own act has formed, • 
gather and burst upon his miserable head ; how his whole 
being is astonished and amazed, and he thinks himself the 
mere victim of a malignant or a reckless Heaven — 

"As flies to wanton boys, are we to gods ; 
They kill us for their sport." 

and he is eager to reach that cliff, 

" whose high and bending head 
Looks fearfully in the confined deep : " 

but at last learns submission, — 

** Henceforth ril bear 
Affliction, till it do cry out itself, 
* Enough, enough,' and die." 

for indeed, however imperfectly he recognizes the lesson, . 

" The gods are just ^ and of our pleasant vices 
Make instruments to plague us" 

Or we might watch the true and sound nature of Albany ; 
how it severs itself from that of Goneril, with a divine dis- 
cordance — not quick to suspect evil or to condemn^ but in- 
flexible towards it when" once unveiled and patent — 

" O Goneril ! 
You are not worth the dust which the rude wind 
Blows in your face. I fear your disposition : 
That nature, which contemns its origin, 
Cannot be border'd certain in itself ; 
She, that herself will sliver and disbranch 

• KING LEAR, 255 

From her material sapi perforce must wither 
And come to deadly use. 

Gon, No more : the text is foolish. . . 

Alb, Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile : 
Filths savour but themselves. What have you done ? 
Tigers, not daughters, what have you perform'd ? * 
A father, and a gracious aged man, . 
Whose reverence even the head-lugg'd bear would lick, 
Most barbarous, most degenerate ! have you madded. 
Could my good brother suffer you to do it ? 
A man, a prince, by him so benefited ? 
If that the heavens do not their visible spirits 
Send quickly down to tame these vile offences, 
It will come ; 

Humanity must perforce prey on itself, 
Like monsters of the deep." 

Or the two brothers, Edmund and Edgar, the false and 
the true, might well occupy us : Edmund, whose very spirit 
is stained by the stain of his birth, and mutinies against " the 
plague of custom " that so brands him, and, recklessly mutiny- 
ing, discerns nothing binding or holy in the ties of brother- 
hood or sonship or marriage. 

" Thou, Nature, art my goddess; to thy law 
My services are bound." 

Edgar, the good angel of his house, with his bright, keen, 
ready intellect, but yet brighter soul ; whose own suflferings 
but yield him opportunities to minister to others,. and, him- 
self in desperate fortunes, to lead them on to hope 'and 

" Ever bearing free and patient thoughts." 


Perhaps, if we so stand and muse, we should presently 
notice that this play deals specially with domestic and social 
relations, and shows how all order, indeed all civilization, 
rests and reposes upon them ; how the rending of the bonds 
that bind child to parent, and child to child, involve the 


rupture and ruin of the whole human fabric. ** It is not 
good to live alone ; " nay, it is not possible. We cannot 
isolate ourselveS, if we would. We cannot repeal the ordi- 
nances of our birth. We cannot re-adjust the ties of blood 
and of kindred. King Lear is a magnificent exhibition of 
what the Latins call " piety " — of the affection to which we 
are bound by duty, as distinguished from the affection which 
springs from taste and selection. Virgil's " pious ^neas " 
is a less effective figure than Shakespeare's pious Edgar or- 
the pious Cordelia. And, for impiety, what portraits have 
ever been drawn to compare with Edmund, Goneril, and 
Regan ? 

From such a multitude of interests I propose now to select 
only two. Let us look only at the King himself, and at 
Cordelia. What means this strange, hoary-headed figure, 
wildly rushing into the storm, appealing madly to the cloud- 
coped heavens — 

** Contending with the fretful element : 
Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea, 
Or swell the curled waters Tjove the main,* 
That things might change or cease : tears his white hair ; 
Which the impetuous blasts, with eyeless rage, 
Catch in their fury, and make nothing of; 
Strives in his little world of man to outscom 
The to-and-fro-conflicting wind and rain. 
This night, wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch. 
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf 
Keep their fur dry, unbonneted he runs, 
. And bids what will take all. 

Kent, , But who is with him ? 

Gent, None but the fool ; who labours to outjest 
His heart-struck injuries." 

And Cordelia, why must she die ? Is it not anguishing 
that it is so ? Does not one feel as if one would give years 
of one's own liffe, if one might, to retain her, when " Enter 



Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms " ? " Cordelia, Cor- 
delia, stay a little ". Whence is sped the arrow that strikes 
down that lovely presence ? Is it from the quiver of a just 
and law-abiding heaven ? or are we indeed the mere game of 
wanton gods, and the earth but a hunting-ground for their 
high majesties, when they care to leave their nectar for a 
season, and exercise their celestial limbs in the chase ? 

To understand the terrific sufferings of King Lear, we 
must closely examine him as he is when we first see him. 
He is a man of keen aflfectionateness, and a nature that wins 
affection, but of a nature altogether uncurbed and headstrong. 
He is an absolute king, a very sultan, whose will, whose whim, 
has been and is his law. The amiable Goneril and Regan 
describe him as he has been only too accurately : — 

" Gon, You see how full of changes his age is ; the observation we 
have made of it hath not been little : he always loved our sister most ; 
and with what poor judgement he hath now cast her off, appears too 

Reg, *Tis the infirmity of his age : yet he hath ever but slenderly 
known himself, 

Gon, 77ie best and soundest of his time hath been but rash ; then must 
we look to receive from his age not alone the imperfections of long- 
engrafTd condition ; but, therewithal, the unruly wa)rwardness that 
infirm and choleric years bring with them. " 

An indulgent, kindly, impetuous, obstinate man, with whom 
life has flowed smoothly, simply because no firm, irremovable 
obstruction ever made it whirl and foam. Lear has had his 
own way, and his way has not been all selfish and evil. 
" When he did stare, see how the subject quaked." Thwart- 
ings and crossings have not formed part of his experience. 
And now we see him, 

** Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less," 

laying down almightily a programme for his closing years. 



*' Meantime we shall express our darker purpose. 
Give me the map there. — Know, that we have divided 
In three our kingdom : and 'tis our fast intent 
To shake all cares and business from our age ; 
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we 
Unburdened crawl toward death." 

What an irony is here ! Read these words in the light of 
what was to come ! The test he proceeds to make of the 
affections of his daughters must be pronounced foolish 
enough. Goethe, indeed, called this opening scene "ab- 
surd ; " but it is scarcely so, if we remember what Lear's ex- 
perience had been. His unhappy position as autocrat had 
prevented his ever learning the worthlessness of mere words, 
or realizing the abysses that may separate words from deeds. 
He listens with a foolish satisfaction and a fatal credulity to 
the " large speeches " of his elder daughters. And now at 
last, in the very hour of his calm, when there are to be no 
more troubles, and he has said to his soul, " Soul ! take 
thine ease," even now begins for him a new and tenible 

The instant that he encounters a check, and this queer 
caprice of his is challenged and denied, all the wildness of 
his nature shows itself ; for, indeed, for all his long life, he 
is yet wild and untutored and untamed — the exact reverse 
of what Edgar, in one of his various shifts, describes himself 
to be — 

"A most poor man, made tame to fortune's blows, 
Who by the art of known and feeling sorrows 
Am pregnant to good pity." 

That instant, when his whim is traversed, he flames out into 
a demoniac fury, and hurls his curse at his "joy." 

It is not, nor it cannot come to, good. What " hideous 
rashness," to use Kent's words. He tells us himself: 


** I lov'd her most, and thought to set my rest 
On her kind nursery." 

** He has always loved our sister most," says GoneriL Yet 

he shrieks out : 

*' Hence, and avoid my sight ! 

So be my grave my peace, as here I give 

Her father's heart from her." 

What of the long years of affection and love that they had 
lived together ? Can these be uprooted like weeds, and flung 
away to the winds ? Is man omnipotent over his past, and 
can he tear all its traditions in pieces? When Lear ful- 
minates against Cordelia, it is no less on himself that the 
thunderbolts fall From this time he is a maimed and 
broken man. The best influence of his life is turned out of 
his doors. Who can say how much his excitable nature 
had already owed to the better-controlled temperament of 
Cordelia? When Kent interferes, he rages only the more 
vehemently, — 

** Come not between the dragon and his wrath ; " 

and at last, in his fury, banishes him : — 

** Hear me, recreant ! 
On thine allegiance, hear me ! 
Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow, 
(Which we durst never yet,) and with strained pride 
To come between our sentence and our power 
(Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,) 
Our potency made good, take thy reward : 
Five days we do allot thee, for provision 
To shield thee from diseases of the world ; 
And on the sixth to turn thy hated back 
Upon our kingdom : if, on the tenth day following, 
Thy banished trunk be found in our dominions. 
The moment is thy death. Away ! by Jupiter, 
This shall not be revoked." 


From this .ferocity nothing can be hoped. We are prepared 
for all that follows. After this paroxysm against the darling 
of his heart, the next wild outburst against Goneril surprises 
us not at all. Here we know there has been some serious 
provocation ; yet here, too, what frightful intemperance and 
excess. If the voice of a better nature had not ceased 
appealing to Goneril, would not this loud curse have hushed 
and scared it away for ever ? Well may Albany exclaim, 

" Now gods that we adore, whereof comes this ? " 

This wild father finds himself all of a sudden in the midst of 
a world of hate and scorn. Already had Cordelia's " fault," 
he says, 

"like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature 
From the fixed place." 

Regan supports Goneril, and there seems no longer finn 
ground under his feet. His brain reels under the pressure 
of such huge reverses, and the storm that now breaks out in 
the physical world is less terrible than that which rages in his 

Perhaps there is nothing in all literature to equal the 
scene upon the heath that presently follows, as the old King 
stands exposed to all the whirling fury of the winds and the 
rains, and, what is more dreadful far, with all his faith in 
humanity convulsed and uprooted. He seems the victim of 
a dreadful league between the powers of nature and yet 
more remorseless man. 

"I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness; 
I never gave you kingdom, called you children 5 
You owe me no subscription : then let fall 
Your horrible pleasure ; here I stand, your slave, 
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man : — 
But yet I call you servile ministers. 
That will with two pernicious daughters join*d 


Your high engendered battles, 'gainst a head 
So old and white as this. O ! O ! 'tis foul ! " 

The very earth quakes under his feet, and truth and honour 
seem buried in the gulfs that suddenly yawn around. When 
and where shall he find comfort? Virtue is no longer a 
reality, but a merely simulated thing. A darkness worse than 
that of the unstarred night falls upon his spirit, so that 
the mere material inclemencies that assail him are hardly 

**Thou think*st *tis much that this contentious storm 

Invades us to the skin : so 'tis to thee : 

But where the greater malady is fix'd, 

The lesser is scarce felt. Thou 'Idst shun a bear ; 

But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea, 

Thou 'Idst meet the bear i' the mouth. When the mind's free, 

The body's delicate : the tempest in my mind 

Doth from my senses take all feeling else, 

Save what beats there." 

Slight indeed his bodily ailments by the side of the anguish 
of his mind — the sharper than serpent's teeth that gnaw and 
tear his inmost heart. 

" Oh ! that torment should not be confined 

To the body's wounds and sores, 

With maladies innumerable 

In heart, head, breast, and reins ; 

But must secret passage find 

To the inmost mind ; 

Then exercise all his fierce accidents, 

And on her purest spirits prey. 

As on entrails, joints, and limbs. 

With answerable pains, but more intense. 

Though void of corporal sense." (Samson Agon,) 

His self-command gradually deserts him. Patience has 
never been one of his virtues, and patience is not a virtue 


that can be extemporized. And it is in vain that he cries 
out, " No, I will be the pattern of all patience ; I will say 
nothing : *' it cannot be. The long years will bear their 
proper fruit. 

It is a very relief, exquisitely piteous though the sight is, 
when he becomes unconscious of his infinite wrongs, and, 
amid the phantasies of delirium, wears once more his crown 
and administers justice upon a world of hjrpocrites. You 
may see, if you listen to his speeches — speeches that are not 
all wild and wandering, — 

" Or matter and impertinency mix*d ! 
Reason in madness ! " — 

how there are reflected upon the broken fragments of his 
mind his own bitter experiences. 

But do not for a moment fancy that these awful sufferings, 
to which this old man is subjected, are mere idle visitations, 
or that Shakespeare represents them to us merely to display 
his mastery of his art ; for, indeed, madness has never been 
represented in art with at all comparable skill. Shake- 
speare was too human-hearted so to trifle with us. Can we 
think he would not have altered this " side-piercing sight," 
if the facts of life would have let him ? Can we think his 
own most gentle heart did not yearn towards this so piteous 

old king — 

**that noble and most sovereign reason, 
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune, and harsh " ? 

But he would have us remember that the sufferings of King 
Lear were partly at least the result of his own wild and cruel 
impulsiveness. Lear had lived long, but he had not learned 
wisdom. The great school of the world never breaks up. 
Lear, in his old age, was yet low in the great world-school, 
and had yet to master a quite elementary lesson. He was 


slow at it, as might be expected ; but it had to be learned. 
Amidst storm and tempest and agonies, he learned it. 

He learned to know himself, how frail and feeble he was, 
how narrow all his prerogatives ; and that the glozings, that 
in old days had charmed and enervated his soul, were born 
of falsehood, and not of truth. 

"They flattered me like a dog; and told me, I had the white hairs 
in my beard, ere the black ones were there. To say * ay,* and * no,* to 
everything I said ! — *'Ay * and * no* too was no good divinity. When 
the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter ; when 
the thunder would not peace at my bidding ; there I found *em, there I 
smelt *em out. Go to, they are not men o* their words : they told me 
I was everything : 'tis a lie ; I am not ague-proof." 

And so he learned to mistrust all mere appearances. 

**A man may see how this world goes with no eyes. Look with 
thine ears : see how yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, 
in thine ear : Change places ; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, 
which is the thief? *' 

He learned, too, sympathy with his poorer fellows. 

** Poor naked wretches, wheresoe*er you are, 
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, 
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides. 
Your loop'd and window*d raggedness, defend you 
From seasons such as these ? O, I have ta'en 
Too little care of this ! Take physic, pomp ; 
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel ; 
That thou may*st shake the superflux to them, 
And show the heavens more just.** 

Lear is a changed man when he awakes out of that healing 
sleep in Cordelia's tent. 

" In him the savage virtue of his race, 
Revenge, and all ferocious thoughts were dead,*' 

as he sees that sweet ministering spirit standing by. Ah ! 


think when he had last seen her ! He cannot believe but 
that she is of another world, or that such tenderness is not 
for him. 

** Pray, do not mock me : 
I am a very foolish, fond old man, 
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less ; 
And, to deal plainly, 
I fear, I am not in my perfect mind. 


" You must bear with me : 
Pray you now, forget and forgive : I am old and foolish." 

The old rage had passed away, and now only the love 
of a loving and lovable nature — only his better part — sur- 
vives. Blessed with his restored darling, he wants nothing 

** Come, let*s away to prison : 
We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage : 
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down. 
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we *11 live. 
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh 
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues 
Talk of court news ; and we '11 talk with them too, — 
Who loses, and who wins ; who's in, who's out," &c. 

He is now ripe for death ; and when that new blow falls, 
and his Cordelia is taken from him, he dies quietly and at 
once. In fact, her death is not so much a fresh misfortune 
for him, as the signal for his release. The gate of the 
unseen is not yet closed upon her, when it re-opens for him; 
and so his weary and heavy-laden spirit finds rest at last 

** Vex not his ghost : oh, let him pass ! he hates him 
That would upon the rack of this tough world 
Stretch him out longer." 

It remains that I try to say something of Cordelia, 
though I do not forget Schlegel's words, " Of Cordelia's 
heavenly beauty of soul I do not dare to speak." 


She tells us of herself, and you may accept every word her 
true lips utter, that 

" what I well intend, 
I '11 do 't before I speak." 

Her whole nature shrinks from loud avowals and protesta- 
tions. She loves to be, not to seem. When GoneriVs tongue 
overflows with fine phrases of filial affection, her very soul 

** WJiat shall Cordelia do ? Love, and be silent,^* 

When Regan rivals her elder sister in professions, she whispers 
to herself : 

** Then poor Cordelia ! 
And yet not so ; since, I am sure, my love 's 
More richer than my tongue." 

When at last her turn comes in this strange vtvd voceexaxni- 
nation, all her truthful instincts are aroused, and it seems to 
her it would be treason to add her voice to the lying chorus. 
Also the question is put to her in a way dreadfully offensive 
to her disinterested spirit : 

" What can you say, to draw 
A third more opulent than your sisters ? Speak." 

Is love to be traded in so ? Are the treasures of the soul to 
be bought and sold ? She will not say a word ! Perhaps, 
one might say she cannot say a word. It is true that she 
" cannot heave her heart into her mouth." Still less does 
she care to " mend her speech a little, lest it should mar her 
fortunes." Blame her, if you please, and tell us what a per- 
fect person would have done. What you say may be all 
very true, but the world is not populated by perfect persons, 
and Shakespeare does not make it his business to draw 
perfect persons. And you must take her as she is. She 
will have to suffer for this waywardness, perhaps. Let us 


only think for the present of the impulses of truth that 
govern her being. The poor king, when he curses her, does 
indeed bless her — 

** 77iy truth, then, be thy dcwer," 

It is SO : this is the divine " settlement " nature has made 
for her ! Truth is indeed her jointure. And so the King 
of France is right when he declares " she is herself a dowry.'* 
Who does not applaud and envy his high choice ? — 

*' Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor ; 

Most choice, forsaken ; and most loved, despised I 

Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon : 

Be it lawful, I take up what 's cast away. 

Gods, gods ! 'tis strange, that from their cold'st n^lect 

My love should kindle to inflamed respect. 

Thy dowerless daughter, king, thrown to my chance, 

Is queen of us, of ours, and our fair France : 

Not all the dukes of waterish Burgundy 

Can buy this unprized precious maid of me. — 

Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind : 

Thou losest here, a better where to find." 

We see nothing more of this fair, true woman till towards 
the end of the piece, when she lands with forces to avenge 
her father's wrongs. But Shakespeare has contrived to keep 
her perpetually before our mind's eye. She is present, 
though absent, like 

** That silver sphere. 
Whose intense lamp narrows 

In the white dawn clear, 
Until we hardly see — yftfeel that it is there." 

The Fool, as we have heard already, pines much for " my 
young lady," and we find that, though dismissed with such 
outrageous resentment by her father, her first thought has 
been for him. She has kept herself in communication with 
the court, that if ever she is wanted to doy not to say^ any- 


thing for him, she may be at once informed. She stands 
watching the poor old man's fortunes, like some sweet, 
wistful-eyed angel with wings ready to be spread on a 
mission of mercy. Kent, in the stocks before Gloucester's 
castle, draws forth a letter to read from her. 

** I know, 'tis from Cordelia ; 
Who hath most fortunately been informed 
Of my obscured course ; and shall find time 
From this enormous state, — seeking to give 
Losses their remedies." 

Presently he sends to her for the news of how things are 
going, and in a later scene we hear how she received it. 

" Kent, Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration 
of grief? 

Gent, Ay, sir ; she took them, read them in my presence ; 
And now and then an ample tear trill'd down 
Her delicate cheek : it seem'd, she was a queen 
Over her passion ; who, most rebel-like, 
Sought to be king o'er her. 

Kent, O, then it moved her ? 

Gent, Not to a rage : patience and sorrow strove 
Who should express her goodliest. You have seen 
Sunshine and rain at once : her smiles and tears 
Were like a better way : those happy smilets, 
That play'd on her ripe lip, seem'd not to know 
What guests were in her eyes ; which parted thence. 
As pearls from diamonds dropp'd. — In brief, 
Sorrow would be a rarity most beloved, 
If all could so become it. 

Kent, Made she no verbal question ? 

Gent, 'Faith, once, or twice, she heaved the name of * father ' 
Pantingly forth, as if it press'd her heart ; 
Cried, ' Sisters ! sisters ! Shame of ladies ! sisters ! 
Kent ! father ! sisters ! What ? i' the storm ? i* the night ? 
Let pity not be believed ! * — There she shook 
The holy water from her heavenly eyes. 
And clamour moisten'd : — then away she started, 
To deal with grief alone." 


At last we are permitted to see her again, all eager to find 
the poor King, " as mad as the vex'd sea," and nurse him 
with her own sweet tendance. She is pure devotion, earnest 
in thanking others for their services, but never dreaming of 
any thanks for her own or conscious of fuiy merit in them. 

" O thou good Kent, how shall I live, and work. 
To match thy goodness ? My life will be too short. 
And every measure fail me." 

While her father sleeps, she stands by praying : 

** O you kind gods, 

Cure this great breach in his abused nature ! 
The untuned and jarring senses, oh, wind up. 
Of this child-changed father I " 

And presently, to the playing of music, the old man awakes 
himself and sobered, as we have seen, and father and 
daughter are once more happy in each other's arms. 

And now why must she die ? I have said Shakespeare 
was no arbitrary homicide. Was it not possible, then, that 
Cordelia should live ? In the first place, it must be noted 
that Cordelia lands in England at the head of a French 
army, and the national sentiment, strong always — ^boister- 
ously strong in the Elizabethan age — demanded that the 
enterprise should therefore fail. Albany, for instance, was 
on Lear's side, and would not have opposed any means of 
avenging him, compatible with his patriotism. But he could 
not let foreign troops overrun the dear free soil of this island 

" Where I could not be honest, 
I never yet was valiant ; for this business, 
It touches us as France invades the land 
Not bolds the king, with others, whom, I fear. 
Most just and heavy causes make oppose." 

But quite apart from this national reason, there are two 
others of deep ethical moment that may explain the awful 


catastrophe. One is this : her own nature betrays her. Is 
she not, as we have seen, the child of impulse ? Was it not 
so in her first appearance, and is it not so in her last ? And 
can such natures thrive in our air ? Does not the sword ever 
overhang them? And in times of violence, like that pictured 
by Shakespeare in King Lear, will it not fall ? She cannot 
take care of herself in this world. She is all for truth, as w»e 
first see her. Home and wealth, and even her father's smile, 
are nothing to her by the side of that sumless treasure. Later 
on in her pure life, she is all for love; she thinks of nothing 
else but relieving her father; she gives not a thought to her own 
safety and protection in an enemy's country. Now, here on 
this earth it goes hard with such natures. They belong to a 
different sphere ; they cannot conform to our habits of self- 
consideration and prudence. These are the martyrs of this 
world, and in their hands are palms. 

"Upon such sacrifices 

The gods themselves throw incense." 

Lastly, when evil powers are let loose, mischief and ruin 
will ensue not only on those who have unchained them, but 
on the innocent who fall within their baleful reach. They 
are like the winds in that bag -^olos gave Odysseus in the 
old story. Once let them fly out and rave, and who shall 
count the shipwrecks that shall strew the shores? The 
foolish sailors, who did the deed, may cry and moan with a 
real repentance; but the waves will soon smother their 
wretched shrieks, and the blasts but howl a dirge for them. 
Can we think that Goneril and Regan could have power 
placed in their hands, and no harm come of it except io the 
unwise donor? Does not the rain fall on the just and the 
unjust ? Yes ; and so does the rain of ruin, in the hour and 
power of evil. The whirlwind, when once it rages, does not 
pick and choose its victims. GoneriFs spite will not spare 


Cordelia, when once it has a chance of venting itself upon 
her; the chance comes, and it does not spare her. Let 
Lear bemoan his folly as he may, yet, alas ! alas ! he cannot 
cancel it By all means let the wicked man repent, let him 
turn away from his wickedness, and let him save his soul 
alive, as best he may; but do not let him flatter himself 
that he can certainly undo his crime. 

** Nescit vox missa reverti.'* 

When blood is shed, can it be gathered up again ? 

And so Cordelia dies : not only Goneril and Regan con- 
sumed by their own guilt as by a living fire ; and Cornwall 
stabbed by outraged humanity in the shape of a peasant ; and 
Edmund pierced by the righteous sword of Edgar; and 
Gloucester crushed by the weight of his own troubles ; and 
the King broken-hearted. 

In that last scene, when the house of Lear is on the verge 
of extinction, as the dying King stoops over the corpse of 
Saint Cordelia, well may Kent, who has himself a journey 
shortly to go, ask, " Is this the promised end ? " He means, 
"Is this the day of judgment?" "Or image of that 
horror?" says Edgar. Yes; it is an image of that horror, 
if we can understand. So 

** draw the curtain dose, 
And let us all to meditation." 




(From the Atkenaum for Sept 2, 1876.) 

MY friend, Mr. S. J. Low, sends me a copy of the 
following epitaph from a slab let in the wall of what 
was formerly the tower of the church at Lee, Kent : — 

" Here lyeth buried the bodyes of Bryan Anslye Esquier, 
late of Lee in the county of Kent, and Audry his wife, the 
only davghter of Robert Turell, of Bvrbrocke in ye county 
of Essex Esquier. He had issue by her one sonne and 
three daughters, Bryan who died w***out issve; Grace married 
to S' John Wilgoose, Knight; Christian married to the 
Lord Sands ; and Cordell married to Sir William Hervey, 
Knight. Ye said Bryan the father died on the X*** of J vly 
1604; he served Qveene Elizabeth as one of ye band of 
Gentlemen Pencioners to her Ma**® the space of XXX*^® 
yeares. The said Awdry died on ye XXV*^ of Novebeber 
{sic) 1 591. Cordell, the youngest daughter, at her owne 
proper cost and chardges, in further testimonie of her dvti- 
fvll love vnto her father and mother, caused this monvment 
to be erected for the p'petvall memorie of their names 
against the ingratefvll natvre of oblivious time. 

"Nee primus, nee ultimus ; multi ante, 
Cesserunt, et omnes sequetitur " {sic). 

The mention of " ye band of Gentlemen Pencioners" is 
interesting. How gay and grand they were we know from 
the Midsummer Nights Dream, II. i. 10 : — 


" The cowslips tall her pensioners be ; 
In their gold coats spots you see." 

and Merry Wives of Windsor^ II. ii. 78, where Mistress 
Quickly is boasting of Mrs. Ford's suitors : — 

"The best courtier of them all, when the Court lay at 
Windsor, could never have brought her to such a canary 
. . . And yet there has been earls, nay which is moxQ pen- 
sioners; but I warrant you all is one with her." " As brave 
as ^.ny pensioners'^ is a phrase of Nash's {Piers Penniless). 

But more interesting is the last sentence, where Cordell is 
not unmindful of her greater namesake, for there is certainly 
in it an echo of the old story. And it is not impossible that 
she may have been influenced by Shakespeare's version of 
it j for that in all probability was just come out at the time 
she was erecting her filial monument. But it is not neces- 
sary to suppose so, for the popularity of the old tale, which 
her very name illustrates, is shown by many various sixteenth 
century versions, to say nothing of the old play, of which we 
first hear in 1593 as acted at the Rose Theatre, and have a 
printed edition in 1605. 

The form of the name is worth noting. Other forms that 
occur are Cordilla, Cordeilla, Cordoille, or Gordoylle. In 
the pre-Shakespearian play it is Cordelia. Spenser has 
Cordeill, and also Cordelia. 

We may fondly trust that Grace and Christian, the elder 
sisters, by no means corresponded to Goneril and Regan. 




(Read at the Fifth Meeting of the New Shakspere Society, May 22, 1874. ) 
** I pray you remember the Porter." — ii. 3, 

AS is well known, the earliest extant copy of the play of 
Macbeth^\% that of the Folio of 1623. Perhaps the 
earliest allusion to the play occurs, as Mr. Halliwell points 
out, in the year 1607, in the Puritan^ (iv. 3); where the 
words "We'll ha' the ghost i' th' white sheet sit at upper end 
o' th' table," seem distinctly to refer to the apparition of 
Banquo. So that Macbeth had been. exhibited at least six- 
teen years before its publication in the first Folio. And it 
has been suspected that in more than one part the play is 
not preserved in the Folio in the exact shape in which it 
left the hand of its creator. Thus the passage in the 3Pd 
scene of the 4th act, where the touching for the " King's 
evil " is described, has been supposed to be an interpolation, 
and it certainly has the air of being so. In the preface of 
the Clarendon .press edition of the play, many other 
passages are mentioned which the editors, rightly or wrongly, 
incline to believe were written by Middleton. Amongst the 
^ssages that have been doubted are the soliloquy of the 
Porter, and the short dialogue that follows between the 
Porter and Macduff. And the doubts concerning it deserve 

^ See Hazlitt's Shakespear^s Plays and PoemSy vol. v. p. 293, ed. 1852. 
Hazlitt's note is.: — ** Dr. Farmer thinks this was intended as a sneer at 



all consideration, because they were supported, if not 
originated, by the best Shakespearian critic this country 
has yet produced. "The low soliloquy of the Porter," says 
Coleridge, "and his few speeches afterwards, I believe to 
have been written for the mob by some other hand, perhaps 
with Shakespeare's consent; and finding it take, he, with 
the remaining ink of a pen otherwise employed, just inter- 
polated, the words, * I!ll devil-porter it no further : I had 
thought to let in some of all professions, that go the prim- 
rose way to the everlasting bonfire.' Of the rest not one 
syllable has the .ever-present being of Shakespeare." — {LiU- 


rary Remains^ ii. 246-7.) Coleridge is not be followed im- 
plicitly, because he has in other Shakespearian matters ened 
strangely;* but yet this doom of his must not be lightiy 
disregarded. It cannot be said, however, to have convinced 
the world. Many editors do not even acknowledge that a 
doubt should exist. Gervinus does go just so far. " Cole- 
ridge and Collier," he says, " are in favour of this omission, 
as they consider his [the *Porter*s] soliloquy to be the un- 
authorized interpolation of an actor. It may be so." And 
then he proceeds, in fact, to show how it may not be so. 

I propose in this paper to consider whether the Porter is 
not after all a genuine offspring of Shakespeare's art. It is 
possible to show bpyond controversy, that he is an integral 
part of the original play ; and therefore we must conclude, if 
he is not the creation of Shakespeare, that the play was on- • 
ginally the fruit of a joint authorship, and not merely 
amended by some reviser. But if, in addition to this, it can 

^ Thus, in 1802, he places TJie London Prodigal amongst Shake- 
speare's plays, The Merchant of Venice after Henry K, &c. ; in 1810, 
The Tempest in the 2nd Period, OtJullo amongst the latest plays ; in 
1 8 19, The Tempest in the same epoch with The Merchant of Venice y &c 
See Literary Remains, ii. 86-91. 


be shown that his appearance is in accordance with the 
artistic system by which Shakespeare worked, that it relieves 
.the awful intensity of the action, and permits the spectator 
to draw breath, — further, that he satisfies that law of con- 
trast which rules, not unfrequently in a manner that per- 
plexes and estonishes, the undoubted compositions of 
Shakespeare — that his speech has a certain dramatic perti- 
nence, and is by no means an idle outflow of irrelevant 
buffoonery; — if such theses can be maintained, then cer- 
tainly the Porter is the result of Shakespeare's direct dicta- 
tion, if not his own manufacture. Lastly, if his particular 
style and language prove to be Shakespearian, it must surely 
be a confirmed hypersceptic that persists in believing that he 
is not of .the family of Shakespeare, but begotten by some 
skilful mimic. Certainly these are the five points which 
should be thoroughly considered before any final verdict is 
pronounced. On each one of them I shall try to offer a few 
suggestions. For the sake of clearness I recapitulate 
them : — 

(i.) That a Porter's speech is an integral part of the 

(ii.) That it is necessary as a relief to the surrounding 

(iii.) That it is necessary according to the law of contrast 

elsewhere obeyed, 
(iv.) That the speech we have is dramatically relevant, 
(v.) That its style and language are Shakespearian. 

(i.) That a Portals speech is an integral part of the play. 
This i!s a very simple matter. No one will deny that the 
knocking scene is an integral part of the play. In the whole 
Shakespearian theatre there is perhaps no other instance 
where such an awful effect is produced by so slight a means. 

a.<i when, ^^ dcc^ of blood accomplsfaedr is the fiiglitfal 
mlenct that the pHBrence of desth aniSfr 2zij czzcamstaiices 
ever imposes oaaH flRmod tt, whea the nerves of Macbedi 
are strained to the utrtwii.iuL, and widuMzt anr fUniml pio- 
vo<:atxoa he hears an tmearthlj Tocce czjii^ '^^eep do 
more'' — 

** SciE it cried, * Sleep no more ' to all tbe house : 
Glamifi hatii imrrderd sleep, and rherrfbre Cawdor 
ShafT sleep no more ; Macfaetii aiiall sleep zto kkxc — " 

at this ghastlj moment there is a knocking heaid. The 
<^pintaal and the material seem merged; and one half 
fancies that it is Conscience hexself that has taken a bodily 
fonn, and is beating on the gate, or that Vengeance has 
already arisen and is damoroos for its victim. 

'"Whence is that knocking?' dies Madxth. 

* Hem 13^1 with me, wiien erexj noise af^pals me? ' " 

It comes again, and his wife now hears it, and recognizes 
it as made at the south entry. To her with her marvellous 
self-command it is intelligible enough ; but even for her how 
terrible, and, as in due time appeais, how burnt in on the 
memory this first arrival of the outer world, now that the 
ojd conditions of her life are all deranged and convulsed. 

" I hear a knocking 
At the South entry ; retire we to our chamber ; 
A little water clears us of this deed ; 
How easy is it then ! your constancy 
Hath left you unattended [Knocking wiikin] 

Hark ! more knocking. 
Oet on your night-gown, lest occasion call us, 
And show us to be watchers. Be not lost 
So poorly in your thoughts. 
Macbeth, To know my deed, 'twere best not know m3rself. 

[Knocking within'\ 
Wake Duncan with thy knocking ! I would thou couldst ! " 

And then, as he leaves the stage, " Enter a Porter," the 


knocking continuing with slight intermissions ; and at last, 
when the door is opened, Macduff interrogates the opener 
as to his lying so late. And when Macbeth appears, after 
whom he is zX. the moment inquiring, he says, 

" Our knocking has awaked him ; here he comes." 

Later on in the play, when Lady Macbeth's overtasked 
physique gives way under the pressure of vast and truceless 
anxieties, and reason dethroned, we see something of the 
impressions which, in spite of herself, have been stamped 
and branded upon her mind; we learn. how that knocking 
thrilled and pierced her too. " To bed, to bed ! " she ex- 
claims, in th^ awful scene of the delirium ; " there's knock- 
ing at the gate ; come, conie, come, give me your hand." 

The knocking scene, then, is of no trivial importance.^ 
But with the knocking the Porter is inseparably associated. 
If we retain it, we must retain him. And if we retain him, 
he must * surely make a speech of some sort ; or are we to 
picture to ourselves a profoundly dumb functionary ? Are 
we to conceive him as crossing the stage, thinking a great 
deal but saying nothing? — nodding perhaps with all the 
amazing volubiUty of Sheridan's Lord Burleigh, or brandish- 
ing his keya with a mysterious cunning, or perhaps rushing 
headlong to his post as if his life was at stake, but with his 
tongue fast tied and bound ? There is probably no student 
of Shakespeare who is prepared to accept such a pheno- 
menon. Clearly, then, the Porter speaks, to whatever 

(ii.) That some speech of a lighter kind is necessary to relieve 
the surrounding horror. In the scene that includes the 
enactment of Duncan's murder, the latter part of which 

* See On the knocking at the gaie in Macbeth^ De Quincey*s Works, 
xiii. 192-8, ed. 1863. 


has already been discussed and quoted, the intensity of the 
Tragedy reaches the highest possible point of endurance. 
Such is the mighty power of the dramatist, that we find our- 
selves transported into the midst of the scenes he portrays. 
They are not images for us, but realities. We verily see 
Macbeth pass into the King's chamber, and share his 
fi'ightful excitement. " The owls scream, and the crickets 
cry." And we hear one " laugh in 's sleep," and one cry 
" Murder." And the wild weird fancies that overcome him 
are vivid with us too, and the air is filled with ominous 
visions and ghastly voices, and the shadows of horror encom- 
pass us round as with a cloak. We reach the ne plus ultra 
of dramatic terror. Nature can bear no njore. We cannot 
breathe in so direful an atmosphere. The darkness is crush- 
ing us like a weight. " Tearfulness and trembling are come 
upon us ; and a horrible dread " threatens to " overwhelm 

As between th« sublime and the ridiculous,, so between 


pleasure and pain there is but one step. But the great artist 
never takes this step. The pleasure he imparts is often 
strange and inexplicable, and not to be defined ; but it is 
pleasure. When we speak of his moving terror in us, we use 
the word in a modified sense. It is an inferior and a coarser 
art that thrills with positive fear and affright. If the old 
story is true that the Furies of -^schylus were so dreadful ^ 

^ They might well be so if they answered to the Priestess's description 
of them : — 

irpotfQiv Be ravSpog tovBe BavfiarrTOQ Xox^Q 
EV^H yvvaucSiv iv BpovoKTiv ^fjisvoQ. 
ovToi yvvcuKaq aXXd Topyovag Xtyw, 
OT^B* avTE TopydoKTiv ukclgo) Tviroig. 
eldov TOT iidi] ^ivkutg ysypafifisvag 
SsiTTvov <f>tpov(faQ' aTTTipol yt fiijv idiiv 
alrai, fikXcuvcu d^ Ig to irav pdeKutcrpoTroc 



to see that women in his audience were thrown into fits and 
convulsions, then the representation was not truly artistic, 
but rude. Certainly Shakespeare does not ever so miscom- 
prehend his craft. He has the strength of a giant, but he 
does not use it as a giant. *He understands and he observes 
the proper limits within which his power may be exercised. 
There was a certain profound humanity in him which for- 
bade all idle torturing of those whom his irresistible fascina- 
tion placed at his mercy. And so in his excitement of the 
feelings he knew when to stay his hand, and he acted faith- 
fully according to his knowledge. He does not turn plea- 
sura into pain by an excessive prolongation of any state of 
extreme emotion. 

Now if ever in the plays of Shakespeare some relaxation 
is needed for the nerves tense and strained to the utmost, if 
ever some respite and repose are due to prevent the high 
mysterious delight which it is the province of the artist to 
kindle within us, corrupting into a morbid panic, if ever, as 
we read or listen, one^ heart threatens to suspend its beat- 
ing, and a very palsy seems imminent, should the awful 
suspense be protracted, it is so in the terrible scene now 
before us. In Davenant*s version of the play, in which all 
the vigour of the context is miserably weakened and diluted, 
no such imperious necessity exists. But I submit that ^ny 

peyKovm S* ov TrXArouri ^veidftamv 

kK S* bn'fiartay \£ipov<Ti ^v(r0iX^ Xi/3a* 

cat KOfffioQ ovTe irpbg 9e&v aydXfiaTa 

^^kf^tlv ducaiog ovi' Ig dvOpt^irtov (rreyac, jc.r.X. 

Eum, 46-56. 

* The appearance they have in ^Eschylus was more or less retained by 
the poets of later times. . . . On tfie stage, however, and in works of 
art, their fearful appearance was greatly softened down,' &c. See art. 
" Eumenides" in Smith's Did, of Greek and Roman Biog, and Myth, .^ 
vol. iL 


one of imagination, who studies this, scene as we have it with 
all his power, who realizes it in all its finished terribleness, 
and is keenly sensible of the darkness of it, as of a darkness 
that may be felt, will be truly thankful for a temporary release 
and diversion. 

**Neque semper arcum 
Tendit Apollo." 

A monotony of horror cannot be sustained. In«that appal- 
ling night scene the very air seems poisoned ; and any dis- 
turbance of it is infinitely welcome. The sound of a fi'esh 
voice, after we have listened so long to that guilty conference, 
is a very cordial. If it would be going too far to say, with 
an important alteration of the poet's words, that 

** We must laugh or we must die," 

one may fairly maintain that the terror must be drawn out 
no further, or our sensibilities will be either numbed and 
stupified, or roused into a wild fever of excitation. 

That this view — that some relief is^ indispensable — is not 
an idle conjecture, founded on an exaggerated estimate of 
the fearfulness of the murder scene, is curiously illustrated 
by the experience of one who attempted to thoroughly study 
that scene apart from its surroundings. Mrs. Siddons, so 
studying it, found the horrors of it completely overcome 
her. The following is the account she herself gives of the 
result of such an isolation : — 

"It was my custom to study my characters at night, when 
all the domestic cares and business of the day were over. 
On the night preceding that pn which I was to appear in this 
part for the first time, I shut myself up, as usual, when all 
the family were retired, and commenced my study of Lady 
Macbeth. As the character is very short, I thought I should 
soon accomplish it. Being then only twenty years of age, I 


believed, as many others do believe, that little more was 
necessary than to get the words into my head ; for the neces- 
sity of discrimination, and the development of character, at 
that time of my life had scarcely entered tny imagination. 
But to proceed. I went on with tolerable composure in the 
silence of the night (a night I can never forget) till I came 
to the assassination scene, when the horrors of the scene rose 
to a degree that made it impossible for me to get farther. I 
snatched up my candle, and hurried out of the room in a 
paroxysm of terror. My dress was of silk, and the rustling of it, 
as I ascended the stairs to go to bed, seemed to my panic- 
struck fancy like the movement of a spectre pursuing me. 
At last I reached my chamber, where I found my husband 
fast asleep. I clapt my candlestick down upon the table 
without the power of putting the candle out ; and I threw 
myself on my bed, without daring to stay even to take off my 
clothes." ^ 

(iii.) Some lighter speech is necessary according to the law of 
contrast elsewhere observed by Shakespeare, Perhaps there is* 
no characteristic of th ^Romantic drama more striking than 
the frequent or rather the habitual, juxta-position of oppo- 
sites. It delights in the meeting of extremes. ' The Tragi- 
comedy, or Comi-Tragedy, was a form of its own peculiar 
invention. The Masque had its Antimasque. This law of 
contrast may seem at first sight identical with the law of relief 
just discussed. But it is not soi It springs not from the 
practical restraints of the drama in its demands upon human 
endurance, as does that law of relief, but from far wider con- 
siderations. It springs from the grand ambition of Teutonic 
art to embrace in its representation life in all its length and 

' See Campbell's Life of Mrs, SiddonSy ed. 1839, p. 184. The 
passage m%y also be found in «Knight*s Cabinet Edition of Shakespeare, 
ix. 4. 


breadth. This art is not content with a mere excerpt from 
life, a mere fragment, a single side of life, as the phrase is. 
It yearns to comprehend life in its totality. It would put its 
arms round the whole world — 2l girdle around the entire 
earth. The artist, if you think of him as a reaper going 
forth with his scythe, will not be confined to this single acre 
or that. He must have free scope, and he will gather his 
harvest everywhere. Of an audaciously aspiring soul, he will 
hot acknowledge the artificial barriers that are reared around 
him. And as he gazes at life as a whole, he sees it full of 
amazing contrasts, aftd the most fantastic paradoxes, and it 
is life he aims at portraying, this oxymoron life, as the gram- 
marians might call it, so bitter-sweet, so teeming with strange 
reverses, so dull and so bright, so low and so lofty, so mean, 
so noble. To the true humorist these various shades and 
colours are inextricably interwoven. He cares nothing for the 
Superficial distinctions that pass current around him. For him 
there is a transcendent unity that 'binds all things together. 
He does not trouble fiimself about the labels that are placed 
by conventional persons on the Iferious departments of 
existence. He laughs everywhere, and he cries everywhere. 
It is all infinitely sad, and infinitely comic. Heraclitus 
and Democritus meet in him. As you look at him you 
cannot say whether his eyes are filled with tears or with 
smiles. The beauty of summer and the bleakness of winter, 
the gaiety of youth and the torpor of age, the gladness of 
life and the dulness of death ; — these are omnipresent 
with him. And so to him there is nothing shocking or ab- 
horrent in the iriter-proximities of things apparently alien to 
each other. For him the very jaws of death are capable of 
laughter. • 

And so in the Shakespearian drama we find strange neigh- 
bourhoods. Jesters and jestings in the midsf of that 


Stupendous storm in King Lear} In Hamlet the grave- 
digger is one with the clown ! In Othello, amidst all its 
bitter earnest, there are foolings and railleries. In fact, 
Macbeth would be unique amongst the tragedies of Shake- 
speare if the comic element were utterly absent from it. 

This law of contrast might be supported also from a 
purely aesthetic point of view, no less than that of truth- 
fulness to nature; and we might *see in this mattter as in 
others how 

** Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know ; " 

and be reminded of that fine mandate delivered to poets by 
one, herself, of no mean poetic rank : 

. . ** Hold, in high poejtic duty. 

Truest Truth, the fairest Beauty." 

(iv.) The Speech of the Porter is dramatically relevant. In 
order to justify this speech as it stands, it is not enough to 
point out, as I have tried to do, the general laws of relief 
and contrast by which Shakespeare works. For in his modes 
of providing relief and contrast he does not proceed reck- 
lessly. He does not ignore harmony when he aims at 
securing variety. There is a real concord in the seeming 
discord. All things work together to one general effect. 
Amidst apparent confusion and chaos there is absolute 
subordination and symmetry. 

" Many things, having full reference 
To one consent, may work contrariously : 
As many arrows loosed several ways 

* "He complained of the Fool in Lear, I observed that he seemed 
to give a terrible wildness to the distress ; but still he complained.*' 
See Wordsworth's Notes of his conversations with Klopstock. Words- 
worth^ s Memoirs y i. 130, or Coleridge's Biographia Literaria^ S||yrane^s 
Letters, iii. p. 172 of the one-votumed edition. 


Come to one mark ; as many ways meet in one town ; 
As many fresh streams meet in one salt se^ ; 
As many lines close in the dial's centre.' 


Now, is the Porter's speech incurably discrepant and incon- 
gruous with the play of which it is a part ? 

"After aU," says Bodenstedt, "his uncouth comicality 
has a tragic background ;^he never dreams, while imagining 
himself a porter of hell-gate, of how near he comes to the 
truth. What are all these petty sinners, who go to the ever- 
lasting bon-fire, compared with those great criminals whose 
gates he guards ! " 

" Yet, at all events," says Gervinus of this soliloquy, after 
mentioning, as we have seen above, the theory of those who 
would excise it, " it is not inappropriate ; there is an un- 
comfortable joviality which' by way of contrast is very suit- 
able to the circumstances, when the drunken warder, whom 
Duncan's gifts or festivities of the evening have left in a 
state of excitement, calls his post * hell-gate,' in a speech in 
which every allusion bears point" 

Surely what these two comments put forward must have 
occurred to every thoughtful reader. The whole speech of 
the Porter is in fact a piece of powerful irony, " If a man 
were porter of hell-gate." But is this man not so ? What 
then is hell? and where are its gates? and what is there 
within them ? What of the " scorpions," of which Macbeth's 
mind is presently full? Knowing what we know of the 
hideous doings that night has witnessed in his castle, may 
we not well say : " How dreadful is this place ! This is 
none other but the house of the devil, and this is the gate 
of hell ? " 

It may be well to notice here that the Porter of Hell was 
a not ^^nfamiliar figure in the old Mysteries. We find in 
Virgil, indeed, what might have suggested some such oflScial 


to the medieval mind, if any suggestion were necessary. 
Virgil speaks of Cerberus as " janitor " {^n. vi. 400) and as 
"janitor Orci." (lb, viii. 296.) So Silius after him speaks 
of "Stygius Janitor" (Punic, iii. 35); and so Fletcher in 
his Honest Man^s Fortune (III. ii.) of " hell's three-headed 
porter." But no classical suggestion was necessary for such 
a creation. It was natural enough, when so much was 
talked of St. Peter with his keys keeping the gate of Heaven, 
that there should be conceived an infernal counterpart of 
that celestial functionary. In the Coventry Mysteries^ Belial 
seems serving in this capacity ; at least it is he who, when 
the **Sowle," "Anima Christi," "goth to helle gatys, and 
seyth, *Attollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamifti, 
portae etemales, et introibit Rex Gloriae.* " — 

" Ondothe yoiye gatys of sorwatorie I 
On mannys sowle I haue memorie 
Here comjrth now the kynge of glorye, 

These gates for to brekd I 
Ye develys that am here withiune, 
Helle gatys ye xal unpynne, 
I xal delyvere mannys kynne ; 

From wo I wole hem wreke. — " 

it is " Belyalle " who on this summons exclaims : 

" Alas I alas I out & harrow I 
Onto thi byddynge must we bow, 
That thou art God now do we know ; 

Of the had we grett dowte. 
Agens the may no thynge stonde, 
AUe thynge obeyth to thyn honde ; 
Bothe hevyn & helle, watyr & londe, 

Alle thynge most to the lowte." 

Belial, perhaps, is " the other devil " in the Porter's speech! 
In a print engraved for Hearhe from an old drawing we 


have a portrait of this gate-keeper. It represents that 
Harrowing of Hell which is dramatized in the Coventry 
Mysteries. Christ is in the act of releasing various souls 
from the mouth of " the pit," to the severe ainnoyance of the 
appointed Custodian, who appears to be blowing a horn as 
a signal of alarm. Above his head is the legend, " Out 
out aroynt."^ In Heywood's Four F^s the Pardoner tells 
how he was anxious to find out in what estate stood the soul 
of a female friend who had died suddenly. His knowledge 
of her, as it would seem, not leading him to look for her in 
Paradise, he proceeded to Purgatory, and not finding her 
there he went to HelL 

** And first to the devil that kept the gate 
I came, and spake after this rate : 

* All hail, Sir Devil,' and made low courtesy; 

* Welcome,' quoth he thus smilingly. 
He knew me well, and I at last 
Remembered Him since long time past : 
For as good hap would have it chance, 
This devil and I were of old acquaintance ; 
For oft in the play of Corpus Christi 

He hath played the devil at Coventry. 
By his acquaintance and my behaviour 
He showed to me a right friendly favour ; 
And to make my return the shorter, 
I said to the devil, ' Good Master POrter 
For all old love, if it be in your power 
Help me to speak with my lord and your.* 

* Be sure,' quoth he, * no tongue can tell 
What time thou couldst have come so well ; 
For as on this day Lucifer fell, 

Which is our festival in hell. 

Nothing unreasonable craved this day * 

That shall in hell have any nay. 

* A reprint of this grotesque picture may be seen in Hone's Ancutit 
Mysteries described. 


But yet.beware thou come not in 

Tin time thou may thy passport win," * &c, 

(v.) Are tJie style and language of the Porter^s speech 
Shakespearian ? 

Surely the fancy, which is the main part of the Porter's 

speech, must be allowed ,to be eminently after the manner 

of Shakespeare. He was well acquainted with the older 

stage, as his direct references to it show, as those to the 

Vice in Twelfth Nighty IV. ii. ; i Henry /F., II. iv. ; 2 

Henry IV,y III. ii. ; Richard IH, III. i. ; Hamlet^ III. iv. ; 

and this conception of an infernal janitor is just such a 

piece of antique realism as he would delight in. He has it 

elsewhere; see Othello^ IV. ii. 90, where Othello cries out 

to Emilia : 

" You, mistress. 
That have the office opposite to St. Peter, 
And keep the gate of hell." 

The manner in which Macduff " draws out " the Porter is 
exactly like that of Shakespeare in similar circumstances 
elsewhere. " What three things does* drink especially pro- 
vpke ? " says Macduff^ and then the Porter delivers himself 
of his foolery, which is coarse enough, and to our taste 
highly offensive, it must be allowed. Compare the way in 
which Orlando is made to elicit the wit of Rosalind in As 
You Like It, III. ii. 323, et seq., &c. If this, likeness of 
manner has no great positive, yet it has some negative value. 
We see that the manner is not un-Shakespearian, if it cannot 

* See \{2j\\ii^s DodsUys Old Plays ^ L 373-4; see also, ib. ii. 171, 

The Nice Wanton ;— ' 

*' I would not pass 

So that I might bear a rule in hell by the mass, 

To toss firebrands at these pennyfathers* pates 

/ would be porter f and receive them at the gates ; 

In boiling lead and brimstone I would seeth them each one." 


be pronounced definitely Shakespearian ; and we need not 
go to Middleton's plays, for an illustration of it. 

The passage is written in the rhythmic, or " numerous," 
prose, that is so favourite a form with Shakespeare. Compare 
it in this respect, for instance, with Mrs. Quickl/s account 
of Falstaflf's end. See Hen, F., II. iii. 9-28. 

And so for the language, there is certainly nothing in it 
un-Shakespearian. The use of " old " in " old turning of 
the key" occurs in 2 Henry /F., II. iv. 21, ^^oid Vtis;" 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, I. iv. 5, " an old abusing of 
God's patience and the king's English ; " Much Ado about 
Nothing, V. ii. 98, ** yonder's old coil at home ; " equivocation 
in Hamlet, V. i. 149 ; French Hose in Henry V., III. viL 
56 ; comp. Merchant of Venice, I. ii. 80. Devil-porter it is 
according to a very frequent Shakespearian construction, as 
** prince it," in Cymbeline, III. iii. 85 ; "xiukes it," in 
Measure for Measure, III. ii. 100. Compare, especially, 
" I cannot daub it farther," iii King Lear, IV. i. 54 ; and 
" I'll queen it no inch farther," in Winter's Tale, IV. iv. 
460. • 

The most striking phrase in the passage is certainly " the 
primrose way to the everlasting bonfire ; " and in Hamlet 
(I. .iii. 50) Ophelia speaks of " the primrose path of dali- 
ance." See also AWs Well that Ends Well, IV. v.: "I 
am for the house with the narrow gate, which I •take to be 
too little for pomp to enter : some that humble themselves 
may ; but the many will be too chill and tender, and they'll 
be for the flowery way that leads to the broad gate and the 
great fire." 

I have not been careful to allude in this Paper to what is 
commonly said as to the disputed passage by those who 
allow it to be by Shakespeare, that it was inserted for the 
sake of the groundlings, or the gods, as we should say, 



because I am not inclined to think that Shakespeare would 
have made any undue sacrifice to that part of his audience. 
They were certainly to be considered by a theatrical writer, 
and certainly Shakespeare did not forget them. But to sup- 
pose that he would have glaringly disfigured — ^if the passage 
is to be regarded a disfigurement — one of the greatest 
passages of his art from any such consideration, is surely 
audacious and extravagant. Moreover, is it so certain that 
such an interruption of the terror would have gratified the 
"groundling?" Would not the genuine animal — and in- 
dividuals of his species were and are to be found in other 
parts of the theatre besides that firom which he derives his 
name — have rather had 

" On horror's head horror accumulate ? " — 

the darkness deepened, his blood yet more severely chilled 
his every hair made to stand on end ? The thorough-bred 
sensationalist would surely vote the Porter to be an ob- 
noxious intrusion. He would long for a draught of raw 
terror, and it is from such a potation that the Porter debars 

The argument on which the rejectors of the passage take 
their stand is the intrinsic inferiority of it. An unsatisfac- 
tory argument It involves two questions : First, is the in- 
feriority of it so signal and admitted? and, secondly, if 
it is so, yet is the passage therefore not by Shakespeare ? 
As to the former question, without contending that the 
soliloquy is a masterpiece of comedy, and the following 
dialogue a supreme flight of wit, yet surely the Porter holds 
his own well enough as compared with corresponding 
persons in other plays. Is the wit of the grave-digger in 
Hamlet y for example, so very superior? Again, have those 
who thus condemn him taken well into account that co- 


■ »4. 


herence of his speech with the main action of the drama, 
which has been dwelt upon above? With regard to the 
second question, suppose the inferiority of the Porter be 
conceded, are we to believe that Shakespeare is always 
equal to himself — ^that he is always at his best, and never 
slumbers nor sleeps? "Interdum dormitat Homerus." 
. ^ ^^ Homer is sometimes caught napping. But Shakespeare 
never? No one would deliberately say so; and yet per- 
petually critics argue on this presumption. If anything dis- 
tinctly un-Shakespearian, or thought to be un-Shakespearian, 
can be pointed out either in the language or the style ot the 
thought or the connection, then of the authenticity of the 
passage containing it our suspicions may be justly encou- 
raged. But we cannot be too cautious in condemning a 
passage simply because it seems to us comparatively weak 
and forceless. Our eyes may not be good. And, if they are 
ever so good, yet it must be remembered that in Shake- 
speare's life, no less than in the lives of lesser men, there 
must have been times when all the wheels of his being were 
slow, when the " nimble spirits " seemed prisoned ^ up in 
the arteries, and the divine energy of his genius fainted and 

The general conclusion justified by what has been ad- 
vanced in the course of this paper seems to me to be this : 
that the Porter is undoubtedly a part of the original play, and 
that the general conception of his speech is certainly Shake- 
speare's : with regard to the expression, that part of it is 
most certainly Shakespeare's, and, for the rest, no suflficient 
reason has yet been urged to countenance any doubt that it 
too is by Shakespeare. 

1 << 

Poysons up," in the 1623 Fol. 




(From the Academy for March 2, 1878.) 

IT may be a sarisfaction to some minds to be assured that, 
after all, Macbeth was a good Churchman. Shakespeare 
has overlooked this side of his character, though Holinshed 
has recorded it, and the fact is verily so, as was long since 
remarked by Mr. J. H. Burton. What I wish now to point out 
is the mention of Macbeth in this aspect in a famous Elizabe- 
than work, even in Laws of the Ecclesiastical Polity, " Will 
any man deny that the Church doth need the rod of corporal 
punishment to keep her children in obedience withal ? Such 
a law as Macabeus made among the Scots, that he which con- 
tinued an Excommunicate two years together, and reconciled 
not himself to the Church, should forfeit all his goods and 
possessions." Keble's note quotes from Boece the Latin of 
this, as Hooker thinks, commendable enactment: — "Qui 
pontificis authoritatem annum totium execratus contemp- 
serit neque se interim reconciliavit, nostis reipublicae habe- 
tor ; qui vero duos annos in ea contumacia perseveravit for- 
tunis omnibus multator/' 





(From the Academy for July 20, 1878.) 

TH£R£ being other reasons for supposing that Shake- 
spear^ wrote Coriolanus in 1608, I may perhaps point 
out that there is in it what may be a reference to the famous 
frost of 1607-8, when fires were lighted on the Thames. 
Says Marcius, in his favourite vein of contempt for the 
commons : — 

•* You are no surer, no. 
Than is the coed of fire upon the ice 
Or hailstcmes in the sun." 

It must be allowed that this is a somewhat out-of-the-way 
image. Coals on ice are not usually a common spectacle ; 
but it would seem they were so in the winter of 1607-8, and 
at that time the image would be by no means far-fetched or 
unfamiliar ; it would, in fact, be obviously suggested. Of 
course one would lay no great stress on it if there was nothing 
else to connect the play with that time; but there being 
other things that so connect it, the allusion may perhaps be 
taken as confirmatory. 

"Above Westminster," writes Chamberlain to Carleton, 
January 8th, 1607-8, " the Thames is quite frozen over, and 
the Archbishop came from Lambeth on Twelfth Day over 
the ice to Court Many fantastical experiments are daily 
put in practice, as certain youths burnt a gallon of wine upon 
the ice, and made all the passengers partakers." 


An account of this frost, written during its prevalence, is 
given in a tract called " The Great Frost : Cold Doings in 
London, a Dialogue," reprinted by Mr. Arber in his most 
useful collection, An English Garner^ Vol. I.— a volume soon, 
we hope, to be followed by others not less valuable. The 
citizen in this dialogue tells — to quote a side-note — of beer, 
ale, wine, victuals, and fires on the Thames. " Are you cold 
with going over ? " runs the text, " You shall, ere you come 
to the middle of the river spy som$ ready with pans of coals 
to warm your fingers." I will just mention that the passage 
in this tract : " Amongst many other things upon the frozen 
Thames .... It was a marvellous deliverance," pp. 97-9 
of Mr. Arber's reprint, is evidently out of its place. 




(From the Academy for Sept. i, 1877. ) 

TURNING over, the other day, Murray's Handbook of 
Kent, I read : — " Execution Dock, Wapping, was the 
usual place at which pirates and persons committing capital 
crimes at sea were hung at low-water mark, there to remain 
till three tides had overflowed them," and at once Antonio's 
kindly wish for the Boatswain in the Tempest came into my 
mind as interpreted or illustrated by the custom described. 
It seems unlikely that this suggestion should not have been 
made before, but I do not myself remember having seen it. 

Nor, I find, does Dr. Elze, whom I have to thank for a 
copy of certain Noten und Conjecturen zu neu-englischen Dich- 
tem. The same idea has occurred to him, prompted by a 
passage in Harrison's Description of England: — 

** Pirates and robbers by sea are condemned in the Court 
of the Admiraltie, and hanged on the shore at low-water 
mark, where they are left till three tides have overwashed 

Evidently Antonio's phrase is a mere exaggeration of such 
a sentence. For such a " wide-chapped rascal " as the 
Boatswain, three tide washings are not enough — let him have 

Here is another allusion to this form of punishment, from 
a well-known play, Green's Tu quoque; or^ The City Gallant, 
Staines is dismissing his faithful servant Bubble : — 


** Bub, But, master, wherefore should we be parted ? 

Staines, Because my fortunes are desperate, thine ar^ hopeful. 

Bub, Why, whither do you mean to go, master ? 

Staines, Why, to sea. 

Bub, To sea ! Lord bless us, methinks I hear of a tempest already. 
But what will you do at sea? 

Staines, Why, as other gallants do that are spent — turn pirate. 

Bub, O master, have the grace of Wapping before your eyes, remem- 
ber a high tide ; give not your friends cause to wet their handkerchiefs. 
Nay, master, I'll tell you a better course than so ; you and I will go 
and rob my unde ; if we *scape, we*ll domineer together ; if we be 
taken, we'll hang together at Tyburn ; that's the warmer gallows of 
the two." 

Stow — this reference is given in Hazlitt's Dodslefs Old 
English Plays, xi., 188 — ^points out *' the usual place of exe- 
cution for hanging of Pirates and Sea-rovers at the low-water 
mark," there to remain till three tides had overflowed them. 



York Street, Covent Garden, 
July 1883. 








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Selected Works, 21 

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Hundred Years ago. Illustrated 
with Eight Steel Engravings. . 

Wreck of the Pacific. Embel- 
lished with Ninety-three En- 
gravings on Wood. 

A BOY'S LOCKER. A Smaller Edition of Captain Manyat's 
Books for Boys, in 12 vols. Fcap. 8vo. in a compact cl6th box, 211. 

MASTERMAN READY. People's Edition, with 93 Illustra- 
tions, 4to. 6^. 

POOR JACK. People's Edition, 29 Illustrations, 4to. 6^. 

AND WATER. By Gehthuue Patmohe. Wilh 4 Illustrations 
by Bebtiia Patmoke, Crown Bvo. 31. dd. 
Illusirated wilh B Full-page Engravings by F. W, Kbvl, &o. 6lh 
T^j;.; — Handsomely bound, 31. 6^. 

jilready chBrncttrued iame other book u the bst cat-Eod^og 
;lighirul. It a Mritten an so ankltc principle, codiiisliaa of nctual 

irtikh is delightful. It is Mritt 

^^Uc^i ;°Ld^^?^y w^l^'t 
^^E>d iliim^y^:-Sai^rday Kn 

^^g By Hans 


By Hans Christian Andersen. 
pEAciiEv, H. Ward. A. Plesner, &c. With 104 inaslrationi by 

,.„ iti= d-i" 

its of AndHsen— 
it pnciilaii of ttie 

most hapinly tiansposf 

TALES FOR CHILDREN. With 48 Fuli-page Illustrations by 
WeiiMERT, and 57 sttiall Engravings on Wood by W. Thomas. 
_ A New Edition. Crown Bvo. 6j. 
l^ This laiA die alrtwe vol. foitn thi most cmpieie Enallsli EdilMd of AbiJ««iiib 


■ 10 Choose. With Hints on 

JAiiES. Third Edition, crown Bvo. aj. bd. 

Kroekeh. Wilh Illustrations by M. StbheE. And Songs, and 
Edition, u. each. Alice ; adapted, by permission, from ' Alice's 
Adventures ia Wonderland.' Snowdrop. The Bear Pbince. 
Jack and the Princess who newkr Laughed. The Four Plays 
in I vol., clotb gilt, 41. bd. 

QUESSINQ STORIES; or, The Surprising Adventures oT tlie 
Man with the Eilra Pair of Eyes. By the late Archdeacon F^rb- 
MAN. 4th Edition, as. 6d. 

WONDER WORLD. A Collection of Fairy Tales, Old and 
New. Translated from the French, German, and Danish. With 
4 Coloured Illustrations and numerous Woodcuts by L. RlCHTBH, 
Oscar Pletsch, and others. Royal i6mo. cloth, gilt edges, 31, 6J, 

Ilwlll delight Ihl chiliiren, imd bu in il aveallhof midmn that luiylMaf 
deal service whoi Ihev have grown inu> men ud vramtD:—I.itirary Wertd. 
QRIMM'S GAMMER GRETHEL; or, German Fairy Tale* 
and Popular Stories. Translated by Edgar Tavlor. Numerous 
Woodcuts after C. CntiiKSUANK's deigns. Post Svo, 31. &f. 


Drawing-room Performances. By Mra. Chisholm, Author of 
■ Rana, ihe Slory ot a Frog.' i6mo. Willi tllustrations, aj ' ' 

ROBINSON CRUSOE. Wiih loo Illustrations, 21 Coloun 
liy E, II. WrhNkkt. Crown 8vo. gill edges, 51. 

THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD. By E. Wbthereli.. With h 
lllustraiiQQS. Post 6vo. 3J. 6rf. 


PoBi Svo, y. 6it. 


, Stowk. lUusttated. 


I. 6t/. 

Cooper, Landseer, &c. 71. 6d. 


highly finished Engravings by C. W. Cope, R.A., W. Helmslet, 
S. Palmeh, F. Skill, G. Thomas, and H. Weir. Crown Bvo. 
gill, 31. 6d. ; plain doth, 11. 

GILES WITHERNE; or, Ihe Reward of Disobediwce. A 
Village Talefor the Voung. Bythe Rev. J. P. ParkINson.D.C.L. 
6lh Edition, Illustrated bythe Rev. F. W. MANN. Super-royal 



1; ■ 

NURSERY CAROLS. By the late Rev. Dr. MONSKLi- Rectot 
of St. Nicholas, Guildford, with upwards ot 100 lllmtratioi 
LuDWiQ RtCHTCB and Oscar Plrtsch. Ijap. i6mo. 11. 6J. 


3 2044 018 901 231 


Harvard College WIdener Library 
Cambridge, MA02138 (617)495-2413 



**v;vA^ AA.